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Full text of "The works of President Edwards : a reprint of the Worcester edition : with valuable additions and a copious general index, to which, for the first time, has been added, at great expense, a complete index of Scripture texts"

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VOL. III. r 

















No. 191 Broadway. 









PART I. Concerning the nature of the Affections, and their importance in Re 
ligion .... . . . . . i 

PART II. Showing what are no certain Signs that Religious Affections are truly 

gracious, or that they are not . . . . . . .22 

PART III. Showing what are distinguishing Signs of truly gracious and holy 

Affections . . . . . . . . .63 



LAND, 1740. 

Advertisement ......... 274 

The Author s Preface ........ 275 

PART I. Showing that the extraordinary Work that has of late been going on 

in the land, is a glorious Work of God ..... 277 

PART II. Showing the Obligations that all are under to acknowledge, rejoice 

in, and promote this Work, and the great danger of the contrary . . 310 

PART III. Showing, in many Instances, wherein the Subjects, or zealous Pro 
moters of this Work, have been injuriously blamed . . . 333 

PART IV. Showing what things are to be corrected or avoided in promoting this 

Work, or in our behavior under it . . . . . 349 

PART V. Showing positively, what ought to be done to promote this Work . 405 


MENT, &c. 

PART I. The text opened ; and an Account of the Affair proposed . . 429 

PART II. Motives to a Compliance with what is proposed . . . 439 

PART III. Objections Answered . . . . . . .465 

Conclusion .......... 505 






TURE . . . 547 



SERMON I. The Church s Marriage to her Sons, and her God . . .559 

II. The true Excellency of a Gospel Minister ..... 580 

III. Christ the Example of Ministers ..... 593 

IV. God s awful Judgment in the Breaking and Withering of the Strong 
Rods of Community ........ 604 

V. The Sorrows of the Bereaved spread before Jesus .... 612 

VI. True Saints, when absent from the Body, are present with the Lord . 645 






THERE is no question whatsoever, that is of greater importance to mankind, ami 
that it more concerns every individual person to be well resolved in, than this : What 
are the distinguishing- qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and entitled 
to his eternal rewards ? Or, which comes to the same thing, What is the nature of true 
religion? And wherein do lie the distinguishing notes of that virtue and holiness that 
is acceptable in the sight of God ? But though it be of such importance, and though 
we have clear and abundant light in the word of God to direct us in this matter, }et 
there is no one point, wherein professing Christians do more differ one from another. 
It would be endless to reckon up the variety of opinions in this point, that divide the 
Christian world ; making manifest the truth of that declaration of our Saviour. " Strait 
is the gate and narrow is the way, that leads to life, and few there be that find it." 

The consideration of these things has long engaged me to attend to this matter, 
with the utmost diligence and care, and exactness of search and inquiry, that I have 
been capable of. It is a subject on which my mind has been peculiarly intent, ever 
since I first entered on the study of divinity. But as to the success of my inquiries, it 
must be left to the judgment of the reader of the following treatise. 

I am sensible it is much more difficult to judge impartially of that which is the sub 
ject of this discourse, in the midst of the dust and smoke of such a state of controversy, 
as this land is now in, about things of this nature. As it is more difficult to write im 
partially, so it is more difficult to read impartially. Many will probably be hurt in 
their spirits, to find so much that appertains to religious affection, here condemned : 
and perhaps indignation and contempt will be excited in others by finding so much 
here justified and approved. And it may be, some will be ready to charge me with 
inconsistence with myself, in so much approving some things, and so much condemn 
ing others ; as I have found this has always been objected lo by some, ever since the 
beginning of our late controversies about religion. It is a hard thing to be a hearty 
zealous friend of what has been good and glorious, in the late extraordinary appear 
ances, and to rejoice much in it; and at the same time to see the evil and pernicious 
tendency of what has been bad, and earnestly to oppose that. But yet, I am humbly 
nut fully persuaded, we shall never be in the way of truth, nor go on in a way accept 
able to God, and tending to the advancement of Christ s kingdom, till we do so. There 
is indeed something very mysterious in it, that so much good, and so much bad, should 
be mixed together in the church of God ; as it is a mysterious thing, and what has 
puzzled and amazed many a good Christian, that there should be that which is so 
divine and precious, as the saving grace of God. and the new and divine nature dwell 
ing in the same heart, with so much corruption, hypocrisy, and iniquity, in a particu 
lar saint. Yet neither of these is more mysterious than real. And neither of them is 
a new or rare thing. It is no new thing, that much false religion should prevail, at 
a time of great reviving of true religion ; and that at such a time multitudes of hypo 
crites should spring up among true~saints. It was so in that great reformation, and 
revival of religion, that was in Josiah s time ; as appears by Jer. iii. 10, and iv. 3, 4, 
and also by the great apostasy that there was ic A e land, so soon after his reign. So 


it was in that great outpouring of the Spirit upon the Jews, that was in the days of 
John the Baptist ; as appears by the great apostasy of that people so soon after so 
general an awakening, and the temporary religious comforts and joys of many : John v. 
35, " Ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light." So it was in those great 
commotions that were among the multitude, occasioned by the preaching of Jesus 
Christ ; of the many that were then called, but few were chosen ; of the multitude 
that were roused and affected by his preaching, and at one time or other appeared 
mightily engaged, full of admiration of Christ, and elevated with joy, but few were 
true disciples, that stood the shock of the great trials that came afterwards, and en 
dured to the end. Many were like the stony ground, or thorny ground ; and but few, 
comparatively, like the good ground. Of the whole heap that was gathered great part 
was chaff, that the wind afterwards drove away ; and the heap of wheat that was left, 
was comparatively small ; as appears abundantly, by the history of the New Testa 
ment. So it was in that great outpouring of the Spirit that was in the apostles days ; 
as appears by Matth. xxiv. 10 13. Gal. hi. 1, and iv. 11, 15. Phil. ii. 21, and iii. 
18, 19, and the two epistles to the Corinthians, and many other parts of the New Tes 
tament. And so it was in the great reformation from Popery. It appears plainly to 
have been in the visible church of God, in times of great reviving of religion, from 
time to time, as it is with the fruit trees in the spring ; there are a multitude of blos 
soms, all of which appear fair and beautiful, and there is a promising appearance of 
young fruits; but many of them are but of short continuance ; they soon fall off, and 
never come to maturity. 

Not that it is to be supposed that it will always be so ; for though there never will, 
in this world, be an entire purity, either in particular saints, in a perfect freedom from 
mixtures of corruption ; or in the church of God, without any mixture of hypocrites with 
saints, and counterfeit religion, and false appearances of grace with true religion, and 
real holiness : yet it is evident, that there will come a time of much greater purity in 
the church of God, than has been in ages past; it is plain by these texts of Scripture, 
Isa. Iii. 1. Ezek. xliv. 6, 7, Joel iii. 17. Zech. xiv. 21. Psal. Ixix. 32, 35, 36. Isa. 
xxxv. 8, 10, chap. iv. 3, 4. Ezek. xx. 38. Psal. xxxvii. 9, 10, 21, 29. And one great 
reason of it will be that at that time God will give much greater light to his people, to 
distinguish between true religion and its counterfeits. Mai. iii. 3, " And he shall sit 
as a refiner and purifier of silver : and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge 
them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteous 
ness." With ver. 18, which is a continuation of the prophecy of the same happy 
times. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked ; 
between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not." 

It is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not discerned and distinguish- 
eu, that the devil has had his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of 
, Christ, all along hitherto. It is by this means, principally, that he has prevailed 
against all revivings of religion, that ever have been, since the first founding of the 
Christian church. By this, he hurt the cause of Christianity, in and after the apostolic 
ago, much more than by all the persecutions of both Jews and Heathens. The apostles, 
in 3 all their epistles, show themselves much more concerned at the former mischief, 
than the latter. By this, Satan prevailed against the reformation, began by Luther, 
Zuinglius, &c., to put a stop to its progress, and bring it into disgrace ; ten times more, 
than by all those bloody, cruel, and before unheard of persecutions of the church of 
Rome. By this, principally, has he prevailed against revivals of religion, that have 
been in our nation since the reformation. By this he prevailed against New England, 
to quench the love and spoil the joy of her espousals, about a hundred years ago. And 
I think, I have had opportunity enough to see plainly that by this the devil has pre 
vailed against the late great revival of religion in New England, so happy anl prom 
ising in its beginning. Here, most evidently, has been the main advantage Satan has 
hacf against us; by this he has foiled us. "it is by this means, that the daughter of 
Zion in this land now lies on the ground, in such piteous circumstances as we now 
behold her ; with her garments rent, her face disfigured, her nakedness exposed, her 
limbs broken, and weltering in the blood of her own wounds, and in no wise able to 
arise ; and this, so quickly after her late great joys and hopes : Lam. i. 17, " Zion 
spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her : the Lord hath command 
ed concerning Jacob, that his adversaries shall be roundabout him : Jerusalem is as a 
menstruous woman among them." I have seen the devil prevail the same way, against 
two great revivings of religion in this country. Satan goes on with mankind, as he 
with them. He prevailed against our first parents, and cast them out of par- 


adise, and suddenly brought all their happiness and glory to an end, by appearing to 
be a friend to their happy paradisaic state, and pretending to advance it to higher de 
grees. So the same cunning serpent, that beguiled Eve through his subtilty, by per 
verting us 1 rom the simplicity that is in Christ, hath suddenly prevailed to deprive us 
of that fair prospect, we had a little while ago, of a kind of paradisaic state of the 
church of God in New England. 

After religion has revived in the church of God, and enemies appear, people that 
are engaged to defend its cause, are commonly most exposed, where they are least 
sensible of danger. While they are wholly intent upon the opposition that appears 
openly before them, to make head against that, and do neglect carefully to look all 
around them, the devil comes behind them, and gives a fatal stab unseen ; and has 
opportunity to give a more home stroke, and wound the deeper, because he strikes at 
his leisure, and according to his pleasure, being obstructed by no guard or resistance. 

And so it is ever likely to be in the church, whenever religion revives remarkably, 
till we have learned well to distinguish between true and false religion, between sav 
ing affections and experiences, and those manifold fair shows, and glistering appear 
ances, by which they are counterfeited ; the consequences of which, when they are not 
distinguished, are often inexpressibly dreadful. By this means, the devil gratifies him 
self, by bringing it to pass, that that should be offered to God, by multitudes, under a 
notion of a pleasing acceptable service to him, that is indeed above all things abomi 
nable to him. By this means he deceives great multitudes about the state of their 
eouls ; making them think they are something, when they are nothing ; and so eter 
nally undoes them ; and not only so, but establishes many in a strong confidence of 
their eminent holiness, who are in God s sight some of the vilest of hypocrites. By this 
means, he many ways damps ^.nd wounds religion in the hearts of the saints, obscures 
and deforms it by corrupt mixtures, causes their religious affections wofully to degen 
erate, and sometimes, for a considerable time, to be like the manna that bred worms 
and stank ; and dreadfully ensnares and confounds the minds of others of the saints, 
and brings them into great difficulties and temptation, and entangles them in a wilder 
ness, out of which they can by no means extricate themselves. By this means, Satan 
mightily encourages the hearts of open enemies of religion, and strengthens iheir 
hands, and fills them with weapons, and makes strong their fortresses ; when, at the 
same time, religion and the church of God lie exposed to them, as a city without walls. 
By this means, he brings it to pass, that men work wickedness under a notion of doing 
God service, and so sin without restraint, yea with earnest forwardness and zeal, and 
with all their might. By this means, he brings in even the friends of religion, insen 
sibly to themselves, to do the work of enemies, by destroying religion in a far more 
effectual manner than open enemies can do, under a notion of advancing it. By this 
means the devil scatters the flock of Christ, and sets them one against another, and 
lhat with great heat of spirit, under a notion of zeal for God ; and religion, by degrees, 
degenerates into vain jangling; and during the strife, Satan leads both parties far out 
of the right way, driving each to great extremes, one on the right hand, and the other 
on the left, according as he finds they are most inclined, or most easily moved and 
swayed, till the right path in the middle is almost wholly neglected. And in the midst 
of this confusion, the devil has great opportunity to advance his own interest, and 
make it strong in ways innumerable, and get the government of all into his own hands, 
and work his own will. And by what is seen of the terrible consequences of this 
counterfeit religion, when not distinguished from true religion, God s people in general 
have their minas unhinged and unsettled in things of religion, and know not where to 
get their foot, or what to think or do ; and many are brought into doubts, whether 
chere be any thing in religion; and heresy, and infidelity, and atheism greatly 

Therefore it greatly conerns us to use our utmost endeavors clearly to discern, and 
have it well settled and established, wherein true religion does consist. Till this be 
done, it may be expected, that great revivings of religion will be but of short continu 
ance ; till this be done, there is but little good to be expected of all our warm debates, 
in conversation and from the press, not knowing clearly and distinctly what we ought 
to contend for. 

My design is to contribute my mite, and use my best (however feeble) endeavors 
to this end, in the ensuing treatise ; wherein it must be noted, that my design is some 
what diverse from the design of what I have formerly published, which was to show 
the distinguishing marks of a work of the Spirit of God, including both his common 
aid saving operations ; but what I aim at now, is to show the nature and signs of the 


gracious operations of God s Spirit, by which they are to be distinguished from all 
things whatsoever, that the minds of men are the subjects of, which are not of a sav 
ing nature. If 1 have succeeded, in this my aim, in any tolerable measure, I hope it 
will tend to promote the interest of religion. And whether I have succeeded to bring 
any light to this subject or no, and however my attempts may be reproached in these 
captious and censorious times, I hope in the mercy of a gracious God, for the accept 
ance of the sincerity of my endeavors; and hope also for the candor and prayers oi 
the true followers of the meek and charitable Lamb of God. 





1 PETER i. 8. Whom having not seen, ye love ; in whom, though now ye see him not, 
yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and lull of glory. 

IN these words, the apostle represents the state of the minds of the Christians 
he wrote to, under the persecutions they were then the subjects of. These per 
secutions are what he has respect to, in the two preceding verses, when he speaks 
of the trial of their faith, and of their being in heaviness through manifold 

Such trials are of threefold benefit to true religion. Hereby the truth of it 
is manifested, and it appears to be indeed true religion ; they, above all other 
things, have a tendency to distinguish between true religion and false, and to 
cause the difference between them evidently to appear. Hence they are called 
by the name of trials, in the verse nextly preceding the text, and in innumera 
ble other places ; they try the faith and religion of professors, of what sort it is, 
as apparent gold is tried in the fire, and manifested, whether it be true gold or 
no. And the faith of true Christians being thus tried and proved to be true, is 
" found to praise, and honor, and glory," as in that preceding verse. 

And then, these trials are of further benefit to true religion ; they not only 
manifest the truth of it, but they make its genuine beauty and amiableness re 
markably to appear. True virtue never appears so lovely, as when it is most 
oppressed ; and the divine excellency of real Christianity, is never exhibited with 
such advantage, as when under the greatest trials : then it is that true faith 
appears much more precious than gold ! And upon this account is " found to 
praise, and honor, and glory." 

And again, another benefit that such trials are of to true religion, is, that 
they purify and increase it. They not only manifest it to be true, but also tend 
to refine it, and deliver it from those mixtures of that which is false, which en 
cumber and impede it ; that nothing may be left but that which is true. They 
tend to cause the amiableness of true religion to appear to the best advantage, 
as was before observed ; and not only so, but they tend to increase its beauty, 
"by establishing and confirming it, and making it more lively and vigorous, and 
purifying it from those things that obscured its lustre and glory. As gold that is 
tried in the fire, is purged from its alloy, and all remainders of dross, and comes 
forth more solid and beautiful ; so true faith being tried as gold is tried in the fire, 
becomes more precious, and thus also is " found unto praise, and honor, and 

VOL. ffl 1 


glory." The apostle seems to have respect to each of these benefits, that perse 
cutions are of to true religion, in the verse preceding the text. 

And in the text, the apostle observes how true religion operated in the 
Christians he wrote to, under their persecutions, whereby these benefits of perse 
cution appeared in them ; or what manner of operation of true religion, in them, 
it was, whereby their religion, under persecution, was manifested to be true 
religion, and eminently appeared in the genuine beauty and amiableness of true 
religion, and also appeared to be increased and purified, and so was like to be 
" found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ." 
And there were two kinds of operation, or exercise of true religion, in them, 
under their sufferings, that the apostle takes notice of in the text, wherein these 
benefits appeared. 

1. Love to Christ : " Whom having not yet seen, ye love." The world 
was ready to wonder, what strange principle it was, that influenced them to 
expose themselves to so great sufferings, to forsake the things that were seen, 
and renounce all that was dear and pleasant, which was the object of sense. 
They seemed to the men of the world about them, as though they were beside 
themselves, and to act as though they hated themselves ; there was nothing in 
their view, that could induce them thus to suffer, and support them under, and 
cany them through such trials. But although there was nothing that was seen, 
nothing that the world saw, or that the Christians themselves ever saw with their 
bodily eyes, that thus influenced and supported them, yet they had a supernatu 
ral principle of love to something unseen ; they loved Jesus Christ, for they 
saw him spiritually whom the world saw not, and whom they themselves had 
never seen with bodily eyes. 

2. Joy in Christ. Though their outward sufferings were very grievous, 
yet their inward spiritual joys were greater than their sufferings ; and these 
supported them, and enabled them to suffer with cheerfulness. 

There are two things which the apostle takes notice of in the text concern 
ing this joy. 1. The manner in which it rises, the way in which Christ, though 
unseen, is the foundation of it, viz., by faith ; which is the evidence of things 
not seen : " In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice." 
2. The nature of this joy ; " unspeakable and full of glory." Unspeakable in 
the kind of it ; very different from worldly joys, and carnal delights ; of a vastly 
more pure, sublime, and heavenly nature, being something supernatural, and 
truly divine, and so ineffably excellent ; the sublimity and exquisite sweetness 
of which, there were no words to set forth. Unspeakable also in degree ; it 
pleasing God to give them this holy joy, with a liberal hand, and in large meas 
ure, in their state of persecution. 

Their joy was full of glory. Although the joy was unspeakable, and no 
words were sufficient to describe it, yet something might be said of it, and no 
words more fit to represent its excellency than these, that it w as full of glory ; 
or, as it is in the original, glorified joy. In rejoicing with this joy, their minds 
were filled, as it were, with a glorious brightness, and their natures exalted and 
perfected. It was a most worthy, noble rejoicing, that did not corrupt and de 
base the mind, as many carnal joys do ; but did greatly beautify and dignify it ; 
it was a prelibation of the joy of heaven, that raised their minds to a degree of 
heavenly blessedness ; it filled their minds with the light of God s glory, and 
made themselves to shine with some communication of that glory. 

Hence the proposition or doctrine, that I would raise from these words, is this : 

DOCTRINE. True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections. 

We see that the apostle, in observing and remarking the operations and ex- 


ercises of religion in the Christians he wrote to, wherein their religion appeared 
to be true and of the right kind, when it had its greatest trial of what sort it 
was, being tried by persecution as gold is tried in the fire, arid when their reli 
gion not only proved true, but was most pure, and cleansed from its dross and 
mixtures of that which was not true, and when religion appeared in them most 
in its genuine excellency and native beauty, and was found to praise, and honor, 
and glory ; he singles out the religious affections of love and Joy, that were then 
in exercise in them : these are the exercises of religion he takes notice of, 
wherein their religion did thus appear true and pure, and in its proper glory. 
Here I would, 

1. Show what is intended by the affections. 

2. Observe some things which make it evident, that a great part of true 
religion lies in the affections. 

I. It may be inquired, what the affections of the mind are ? 

I answer : The affections are no other than the more vigorous and sensible 
exercises of the inclination and will of the soul. 

God has endued the soul with two faculties : one is that by which it is ca 
pable of perception and speculation, or by which it discerns, and views, and 
judges of things ; which is called the understanding. The other faculty is that 
by which the soul does not merely perceive and view things, but is some way 
inclined with respect to the things it views or considers ; either is inclined to 
them, or is disinclined and averse from them ; or is the faculty by which the 
soul does not behold things, as an indifferent unaffected spectator, but either as 
liking or disliking, pleased or displeased, approving or rejecting. This faculty 
is called by various names ; it is sometimes called the inclination : and, as it 
has respect to the actions that are determined and governed by it, is called the 
will : and the mind, with regard to the exercises of this faculty, is often called 
the heart. 

The exercise of this faculty are of two sorts ; either those by which the 
soul is carried out towards the things that are in view, in approving of them, 
being pleased with them, and inclined to them ; or those in which the soul op 
poses the things that are in view, in disapproving of them, and in being dis 
pleased with them, averse from them, and rejecting them. 

And as the exercises of the inclination and will of the soul are various in 
their kinds, so they are much more various in their degrees. There are some 
exercises of pleasedness or displeasedness, inclination or disinclination, wherein 
the soul is carried but a little beyond a state of perfect indifference. And there 
are other degrees above this, wherein the approbation or dislike, pleasedness or 
aversion, are stronger, wherein we may rise higher and higher, till the soul 
comes to act vigorously and sensibly, and the actings of the soul are with that 
strength, that (through the laws of the union which the Creator has fixed 
between the soul and the body) the motion of the blood and animal spirits be 
gins to be sensibly altered 5 whence oftentimes arises some bodily sensation, es 
pecially about the heart and vitals, that are the fountain of the fluids of the 
body : from whence it comes to pass, that the mind, with regard to the exer 
cises of this faculty, perhaps in all nations and ages, is called the heart. And, 
it is to be noted, that they are these more vigorous and sensible exercises of this 
faculty that are called the affections. 

The will, and the affections of the soul, are not two faculties ; the affections 
are not essentially distinct from the will, nor do they differ from the mere act 
ings of the will, and inclination of the soul, but only in the liveliness and sensi- 
bleness of exercise. 


It must be confessed, that language is here somewhat imperfect, and the 
meaning of words in a considerable measure loose and unfixed, and not precise-- 
ly limited by custom, which governs the use of language. In some sense, the 
affection of the soul differs nothing at all from the will and inclination, and the 
will never is in any exercise any further than it is affected ; it is not moved out 
of a state of perfect indifference, any otherwise than as it is affected one way 
or other, and acts nothing any further. But yet there are many actings of the 
will and inclination, that are not so commonly called affections : in every thing 
we do, wherein we act voluntarily, there is an exercise of the will and inclina 
tion ; it is our inclination that governs us in our actions ; but all the actings of 
the inclination and will, in all our common actions of life, are not ordinarily 
called affections. Yet, what are commonly called affections are not essentially 
different from them, but only in the degree and manner of exercise. In every 
act of the will whatsoever, the soul either likes or dislikes, is either inclined or 
disinclined to what is in view : these are not essentially different from those 
affections of love and hatred : that liking or inclination of the soul to a thing, 
if it be in a high degree, and be vigorous and lively, is the very same thing with 
the affection of love ; and that disliking and disinclining, if in a greater degree, is 
the very same with hatred. In every act of the will for, or towards something 
not present, the soul is in some degree inclined to that thing ; and that inclin 
ation, if in a considerable degree, is the very same with the affection of desire. 
And in every degree of the act of the will, wherein the soul approves of some 
thing present, there is a degree of pleasedness ; and that pleasedness, if it be in a 
considerable degree, is the very same with the affections of joy or delight. And if 
the will disapproves of what is present, the soul is in some degree displeased, and if 
that displeasedness be great, it is the very same with the affection of grief or sorrow. 

Such seems to be our nature, and such the laws of the union of soul and 
body, that there never is in any case whatsoever, any lively and vigorous exer 
cise of the will or inclination of the soul, without some effect upon the body, in 
some alteration of the motion of its fluids, and especially of the animal spirits. 
And, on the other hand, from the same laws of the union of the soul and body, 
the constitution of the body, and the motion of its fluids, may promote the exer 
cise of the affections. But yet it is not the body, but the mind only, that is the 
proper seat of the affections. The body of man is no more capable of be 
ing really the subject of love or hatred, joy or sorrow, fear or hope, than the 
body of a tree, or than the same body of man is capable of thinking and under 
standing. As it is the soul only that has ideas, so it is the soul only that is 
pleased or displeased with its ideas. As it is the soul only that thinks, so it is 
the soul only that loves or hates, rejoices or is grieved at what it thinks of. Nor 
are these motions of the animal spirits, and fluids of the body, any thing proper 
ly belonging to the nature of the affections, though they always accompany 
them, in the present state ; but are only effects or concomitants of the affections 
that are entirely distinct from the affections themselves, and no way essential to 
them ; so that an unbodied spirit may be as capable of love and hatred, joy or 
sorrow, hope or fear, or other affections, as one that is united to a body. 

The affections and passions are frequently spoken of as the same ; and yet 
in the more common use of speech, there is in some respect a difference ; and 
affection is a word that in its ordinary signification, seems to be something more 
extensive than passion, being used for all vigorous lively actings of the will or 
inclination ; but passion for those that are more sudden, and whose effects on 
the animal spirits are more violent, and the mind more overpowered, and less in 
its own command 


As all the exercises of the inclination and will, are either in approving and 
liking, or disapproving and rejecting ; so the affections are of two sorts ; 
they are those by which the soul is carried out to what is in view, cleaving to 
it, or seeking it; or those by which it is averse from it, and opposes it. 

Of the former sort are love, desire, hope, joy, gratitude, complacence. Of 
the latter kind are hatred, fear, anger, grief, and such like ; which it is need 
less now to stand particularly to define. 

And there are some affections wherein there is a composition of each of the 
aforementioned kinds of actings of the will ; as in the affection of pity, there is 
something of the former kind, towards the person suffering, and something of 
the. latter towards what he suffers. And so in zeal, there is in it high appro 
bation of some person or thing, together with vigorous opposition to what is 
conceived to be contrary to it. 

There are other mixed affections that might be also mentioned, but I hasten 

II. The second thing proposed, which was to observe some things that ren 
der it evident, that true religion, in great part consists in the affections. And 

1. What has been said of the nature of the affections makes this evident, 
and may be sufficient, without adding any thing further, to put this matter 
out of doubt ; for who will deny that true religion consists in a great measure, in 
vigorous and lively actings of the inclination and will of the soul, or the fervent 
exercises of the heart ? 

That religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, 
dull, and lifeless wishes, raising us but a little above a state of indifference : 
God, in his word, greatly insists upon it, that we be good in earnest, " fer 
vent in spirit," and our hearts vigorously engaged in religion: Rom. xii. 11, 
" Be ye fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." Deut. x. 12, " And now, Israel, 
what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to 
walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all 
thy heart, and with all thy soul ?" and chap. vi. 4, 6, " Hear, Israel, the 
Lord our God is one Lord : And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy 
heart, and with all thy might." It is such a fervent vigorous engagedness of the 
heart in religion, that is the fruit of a real circumcision of the heart, or true re 
generation, and that has the promises of life ; Deut. xxx. 6, " And the Lord thy 
God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy 
God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." 

If we be not in good earnest in religion, and our wills and inclinations be 
not strongly exercised, we are nothing. The things of religion are so great, 
that there can be no suitableness in the exercises of our hearts, to their nature 
and importance, unless they be lively and powerful. In nothing is vigor in the 
actings of our inclinations so requisite, as in religion ; and in nothing is luke- 
warmness so odious. True religion is evermore a powerful thing ; and the 
power of it appears, in the first place in the inward exercises of it in the heart, 
where is the principal and original seat of it. Hence true religion is called the 
power of godliness, in distinction from the external appearances of it, that are 
the form of it, 2 Tim. iii. 5 : " Having a form of godliness, but denying the 
power of it." The Spirit of God, in those that have sound and solid religion, 
is a spirit of powerful holy affection ; and therefore, God is said " to have given 
the Spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind," 2 Tim. i. 7. And such, 
when they receive the Spirit of God, in his sanctifying and saving influences, 
are said to be "baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire ;" by reason of the 


power and fervor of those exercises the Spirit of God excites in their hearts, 
whereby their hearts, when grace is in exercise, may be said to " burn within 
them;" as is said of the disciples, Luke xxiv. 32. 

The business of religion is from time to time compared to those exercises, 
wherein men are wont to have their hearts and strength greatly exercised and 
engaged, such as running, wrestling or agonizing for a great prize or crown, 
and fighting with strong enemies that seek our lives, and warring as those, that 
by violence take a city or kingdom. 

And though true grace has various degrees, and there are some that are but 
babes in Christ, in whom the exercise of the inclination and will, towards divine 
and heavenly things, is comparatively weak ; yet every one that has the power 
of godliness in his heart, has his inclinations and heart exercised towards God 
and divine things, with such strength and vigor that these holy exercises do 
prevail in him above all carnal or natural affections, and are effectual to over 
come them : for every true disciple of Christ " loves him above father or mother, 
wife and children, brethren and sisters, houses and lands : yea, than his own 
life." From hence it follows, that wherever true religion is, there are vigorous 
exercises of the inclination and will towards divine objects : but by what was 
said before, the vigorous, lively, and sensible exercises of the will, are no other 
than the affections of the soul. 

2. The Author of the human nature has not only given affections to men, 
but has made them very much the spring of men s actions. As the affections 
do not only necessarily belong to the human nature, but are a very great part 
of it ; so (inasmuch as by regeneration persons are renewed in the whole man, 
and sanctified throughout) holy affections do not only necessarily belong to true 
religion, but are a very great part of it. And as true religion is of a practical 
nature, and God hath so constituted the human nature, that the affections are 
very much the spring of men s actions, this also shows, that true religion must 
consist very much in the affections. 

Such is man s nature, that he is very inactive, any otherwise than he is 
influenced by some affection, either love or hatred, desire, hope, fear, or some 
other. These affections we see to be the springs that set men agoing, in all 
the affairs of life, and engage them in all their pursuits : these are the things 
that put men forward, and carry them along, in all their worldly business ; and 
especially are men excited and animated by these, in all affairs wherein they 
are earnestly engaged, and which they pursue with vigor. We see the world 
of mankind to be exceeding busy and active; and the affections of men are the 
springs of the motion : take away all love and hatred, all hope and fear, all 
anger, zeal, and affectionate desire, and the world would be, in a great measure 
motionless and dead ; there would be no such thing as activity amongst mankind, 
or any earnest pursuit whatsoever. It is affection that engages the covetous 
man, and him that is greedy of worldly profits, in his pursuits ; and it is by the 
affections, that the ambitious man is put forward in his pursuit of worldly glory; 
and it is the affections also that actuate the voluptuous man, in his pursuit of 
pleasure and sensual delights : the world continues, from age to age, in a conti 
nual commotion and agitation, in a pursuit of these things; but take away all 
affection, and the spring of all this motion would be gone, and the motion itself 
would cease. And as in worldly things, worldly affections are very much the 
spring of men s mocion and action ; so in religious matters, the spring of their 
actions is very much religious affection : he that has doctrinal knowledge and 
speculation only, without affection, never is engaged in the business of religion. 

3. Nothing is more manifest in fact, than that the things of religion take 


hold of men s souls, no further than they affect them. There are multitudes that 
often hear the word of God, and therein hear of those things that are infinitely 
great and important, and that most nearly concern them, and all that is heard 
seems to be wholly ineffectual upon them, and to make no alteration in their 
disposition or behavior ; and the reason is, they are not affected with what 
they hear. There are many that often hear of the glorious perfections of God, 
his almighty power and boundless wisdom, his infinite majesty, and that holiness 
of God, by which he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on 
iniquity, and the heavens are not pure in his sight, and of God s infinite good 
ness and mercy, and hear of the great works of God s wisdom, power and 
goodness, wherein there appear the admirable manifestations of these perfec 
tions ; they hear particularly of the unspeakable love of God and Christ, and of 
the great things that Christ has done and suffered, and of the great things of 
another world, of eternal misery in bearing the fierceness and wrath of Almighty 
God, and of endless blessedness and glory in the presence of God, and the enjoy 
ment of his dear love ; they also hear the peremptory commands of God, and 
his gracious counsels and warnings, and the sweet invitations of the gospel ; I 
say, they often hear these things and yet remain as they were before, with no 
sensible alteration in them, either in heart or practice, because they are not 
affected with what they hear ; and ever will be so till they are affected. I am 
bold to assert, that there never was any considerable change wrought in the 
mind or conversation of any person, by any thing of a religious nature, that 
ever he read, heard or saw, that had not his affections moved. Never was a 
natural man engaged earnestly to seek his salvation ; never were any such 
brought to cry after wisdom, and lift up their voice for understanding, and to 
wrestle with God in prayer for mercy ; and never was one humbled, and brought 
to the foot of God, from any thing that ever he heard or imagined of his own 
unworthiness and deserving of God s displeasure ; nor was ever one induced to 
fly for refuge unto Christ, while his heart remained unaffected. Nor was there 
ever a saint awakened out of a cold, lifeless frame, or recovered from a declin 
ing state in religion, and brought back from a lamentable departure from God, 
without having his heart affected. And in a word, there never was any thing 
considerable brought to pass in the heart or life of any man living, by the things 
of religion, that had not his heart deeply affected by those things. 

4. The holy Scriptures do everywhere place religion very much in the affec 
tion ; such as fear, hope, love, hatred, desire, joy, sorrow, gratitude, compas 
sion, and zeal. 

The Scriptures place much of religion in godly fear ; insomuch, that it is 
often spoken of as the character of those that are truly religious persons, that 
they tremble at God s word, that they fear before him, that their flesh trembles 
for Year of him, and that they are afraid of his judgments, that his excellency 
makes them afraid, and his dread falls upon them, and the like: and a com- 
pellation commonly given the saints in Scripture, is " fearers of God," or, " they 
that fear the Lord? And because the fear of God is a great part of true god 
liness, hence true godliness in general, is very commonly called by the name of 
the fear of God ; as every one knows, that knows any thing of the Bible. 

*So hope in God and in the promises of his word, is often spoken of in the 
Scripture, as a very considerable part of true religion. It is mentioned as one 
of the three great things of which religion consists, 1 Cor. xiii. 13. Hope in 
the Lord is also frequently mentioned as the character of the saints : Psal. cxlvi 
5, " Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the 
Lord his God." Jer. xvii. 7, " Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and 


whose hope the Lord is." Psal. xxxi. 24, " Be of good courage, and he shall 
strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord." And the like in many 
other places. Religious fear and hope are, once and again, joined together, as 
jointly constituting the character of the true saints ; Psal. xxxiii. 18, " Behold, 
the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his 
mercy." Psal. cxlvii. 11, " The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in 
those that hope in his mercy." Hope is so great a part of true religion, 
that the apostle says, " we are saved by hope," Rom. viii. 24. And this is 
spoken of as the helmet of the Christian soldier. 1 Thess. v. 8, " And for % 
helmet, the hope of salvation ;" and the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, 
which preserves it from being cast away by the storms of this evil world." 
Heb. vi. 19, " Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and 
steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail." It is spoken of as 
a great fruit and benefit which true saints receive by Christ s resurrection : 1 Pet. 

1. 3, " Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according 
to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resur 
rection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 

The Scriptures place religion very much in the affection of love, in love to 
God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and love to the people of God, and to mankind. 
The texts in which this is manifest, both in the Old Testament and New, are 
innumerable. But of this more afterwards. 

The contrary affection of hatred also, as having sin for its object, is spoken 
of in Scripture as no inconsiderable part of true religion. It is spoken of as 
that by which true religion may be known and distinguished ; Prov. viii. 13, 
" The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." And accordingly the saints are called 
upon to give evidence of their sincerity by this ; Psal. xcvii. 10, " Ye that love 
the Lord hate evil." And the Psalmist often mentions it as an evidence of his 
sincerity ; Psal. 2, 3, " I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will 
set no wicked thing before mine eyes ; I hate the work of them that turn aside." 
Psal. cxix. 104, " I hate every false way." So ver. 127. Again, Psal. cxxxix. 
21, " Do I not hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?" 

So holy desire, exercised in longings, hungerings, and thirstings after God 
and holiness, is often mentioned in Scripture as an important part of true reli 
gion ; Isa. xxvi. 8, " The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remem 
brance of thee." Psal. xxvii. 4, " One thing have I desired of the Lord, and 
that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of 
my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple." Psal. 
xlii. 1, 2, " As the hartpanteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after 
thee, O God ; my soul thirsteth for God, for the living God : when shall I come 
and appear before God ?" Psal. Ixiii. 1, 2, " My soul thirsteth for thee, my 
flesh longeth for thee, in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is ; to see thy 
power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary." Psal. Ixxxiv. 1, 

2, " How amiable are thy tabernacles, Lord of hosts ! My soul longeth, yea, 
even fainteth for the courts of the Lord : my heart and my flesh crieth out for 
the living God." Psal. cxix. 20, " My soul breaketh for the longing that it 
hath unto thy judgments at all times." So Psal. Ixxiii. 25, and cxliii. 6, 7, and 
cxxx. 6. Cant. iii. 1, 2, and vi. 8. Such a holy desire and thirst of soul is 
mentioned, as one thing which renders or denotes a man truly blessed, in the 
beginning of Christ s sermon on the mount, Matt. v. 6 : " Blessed are they that 
do hunger and thirst after righteousness ; for they shall be filled." And this 
holy thirst is spoken of, as a great thing in the condition of a participation of 


the blessings of eternal life ; Rev. xxi. 6, " I will give unto him that is athirst, 
of the fountain of the water of life freely." 

The Scriptures speak of holy joy, as a great part of true religion. So it is 
represented in the text. And as an important part of religion, it is often ex 
horted to, and pressed, with great earnestness; Psal. xxxvii. 4, " Delight thy 
self in the Lord ; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Psal. xcvii. 
12, " Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous." So Psal. xxxiii. 1, " Rejoice in the 
Lord, ye righteous." Matt. v. 12, " Rejoice, and be exceeding glad." Phil, 
iii. 1, " Finally, brethren, rejoice in the Lord." And chap. iv. 4, " Rejoice in 
the Lord alway ; and again I say, Rejoice." 1 Thess. v. 16, " Rejoice ever 
more." Psal. cxlix. 2, " Let Israel rejoice in him that made him ; let the 
children of Zion be joyful in their king." This is mentioned among the princi 
pal fruits of the Spirit of grace ; Gal. v. 21, " The fruit of the Spirit is love," 
&c. The Psalmist mentions his holy joy, as an evidence of his sincerity. Psal. 
cxix. 14, " I have rejoiced in the w r ay of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches." 

Religious sorrow, mourning, and brokenness of heart, are also frequently 
spoken of as a great part of true religion. These things are often mentioned as 
distinguishing qualities of the true saints, and a great part of their character; 
Matt. v. 4, " Blessed are they that mourn ; for they shall be comforted." Psal. 
xxxiv. 18, " The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart ; and saveth 
such as be of a contrite spirit." Isa. Ixi. 1,2, " The Lord hath anointed me, 
to bind up the broken-hearted, to comfort all that mourn." This godly sorrow 
and brokenness of heart is often spoken of, not only as a great thing in the dis 
tinguishing character of the saints, but that in them, which is peculiarly accep 
table and pleasing to God ; Psal. li. 17, " The sacrifices of God are a broken 
spirit : a broken and a contrite heart, God, thou wilt not despise." Isa. Ivii. 
15, "Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is 
Holy, 1 dwell in the high and holy place ; with him also that is of a contrite 
and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of 
the contrite ones." Chap. Ixvi. 2, " To this man will I look, even to him that 
is poor, and of a contrite spirit." 

Another affection often mentioned, as that in the exercise of which much of 
true religion appears, is gratitude; especially as exercised in thankfulness and 
praise to God. This being so much spoken of in the book of Psalms, and other 
parts of the holy Scriptures, I need not mention particular texts. 

Again, the holy Scriptures do frequently speak of compassion or mercy, as 
a very great and essential thing in true religion ; insomuch that good men are 
in Scripture denominated from hence ; and a merciful man and a good man are 
equivalent terms in Scripture ; Isa. Ivii. 1, " The righteous perisheth, and no man 
layeth it to heart ; and merciful men are taken away." And the Scripture chooses 
out this quality, as that by which, in a peculiar manner, a righteous man is de 
ciphered ; Psal. xxxvii. 21, " The righteous showeth mercy, and giveth ;" and 
ver. 26, " He is is ever merciful, and lendeth." And Prov. xiv. 21, " He that 
honoreth the Lord, hath mercy on the poor." And Col. iii. 12, " Put ye on, as the 
elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies," &c. This is one of those great 
things by which those who are truly blessed are described by our Saviour ; Matt. 
v. 7, " Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." And this Christ 
also speaks of, as one of the weightier matters of the law ; Matt, xxiii. 23, " Wo 
unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, 
and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mer 
cy, and faith." To the like purpose is that, Mic. vi. 8, " He hath showed thee,, 
man, what is good : and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justice, 

VOL. III. 2 


and love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God ?" And also that, Hos. vi. 6, 
" For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice." Which seems to have been a text 
much delighted in by our Saviour, by his manner of citing it once and again, 
Matt. ix. 13, and xii. 7. 

Zeal is also spoken of, as a very essential part of the religion of true saints. 
It is spoken of as a great thing Christ had in view, in giving himself for our 
redemption ; Tit. ii. 14, " Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from 
all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." 
And this is spoken of, as the great thing wanting in the lukewarm Laodiceans 
Rev. iii. 15, 16, 19. 

I have mentioned but a few texts, out of an innumerable multitude, all over 
the Scripture, which place religion very much in the affections. But what has 
been observed, may be sufficient to show that they who would deny that much 
of true religion lies in the affections, and maintain the contrary, must throw 
away what we have been wont to own for our Bible, and get some other rule, 
by which to judge of the nature of religion. 

5. The Scriptures do represent true religion, as being summarily compre 
hended in love, the chief of the affections, and fountain of all other affections. 

So our blessed Saviour represents the matter, in answer to the lawyer, who 
asked him, which was the great commandment of the law Matt. xxii. 37 40 : 
" Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and 
with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great command 
ment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." W T hich 
last words signify as much, as that these two commandments comprehend all 
the duty prescribed, and the religion taught in the law and the prophets. And 
the apostle Paul does from time to time make the same representation of the 
matter ; as in Rom. xiii. 8, " He that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law." 
And ver. 10, Love is the fulfilling of the law." And Gal. v. 14, "For all 
the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as 
thyself." So likewise in 1 Tim. i. 5, " Now the end of the commandment is 
charity, out of a pure heart," &c. So the same apostle speaks of love, as the great 
est thing in religion, and as the vitals, essence and soul of it ; without which, 
the greatest knowledge and gifts, and the most glaring profession, and every 
thing else which appertains to religion, are vain and worthless ; and represents 
it as the fountain from whence proceeds all that is good, in 1 Cor. xiii. through 
out ; for that Avhich is there rendered charity, in the original is ayan^ the pro 
per English of which is love. 

Now, although it be true, that the love thus spoken of includes the whole 
of a sincerely benevolent propensity of the soul towards God and man ; yet it 
may be considered, that it is evident from what has been before observed, that 
this propensity or inclination of the soul, when in sensible and vigorous exer 
cise, becomes affection, and is no other than affectionate love. And surely it is 
such vigorous and fervent love which Christ speaks of, as the sum of all reli 
gion, when he speaks of loving God with all our hearts, with all our souls, and 
with all our minds, and our neighbor as ourselves, as the sum of all that was 
taught and prescribed in the law and the prophets. 

Indeed it cannot be supposed, when this affection of love is here, and in 
other Scriptures, spoken of as the sum of all religion, that hereby is meant the 
act, exclusive of the habit, or that the exercise of the understanding is excluded, 
which is implied in all reasonable affection. But it is doubtless true, and evi 
dent from these Scriptures, that the essence of all true religion lies in holy love j 


and that in this divine affection, and an habitual disposition to it, and that light 
which is the foundation of it, and those things which are the fruits of it, con 
sists the whole of religion. 

From hence it clearly and certainly appears, that great part of true religion 
consists in the affections. For love is not only one of the affections, but it is 
the first and chief of the affections, and the fountain of all the affections. From 
love arises hatred of those things which are contrary to what we love, or which 
oppose and thwart us in those things that we delight in : and from the various 
exercises of love and hatred, according to the circumstances of the objects of 
these affections, as present or absent, certain or uncertain, probable or improb 
able, arise all those other affections of desire, hope, fear, joy, grief, gratitude, 
anger, &c. From a vigorous, affectionate, and fervent love to God, will neces 
sarily arise other religious affections ; hence will arise an intense hatred and 
abhorrence of sin, fear of sin, and a dread of God s displeasure, gratitude to 
God for his goodness, complacence and joy in God, when God is graciously 
and sensibly present, and grief when he is absent, and a joyful hope when a 
future enjoyment of God is expected, and fervent zeal for the glory of God 
And in like manner, from a fervent love to men, will arise all other virtuous 
affections towards men. 

6. The religion of the most eminent saints we have an account of in the 
Scripture, consisted much in holy affections. 

I shall take particular notice of three eminent saints, who have express 
ed the frame and sentiments of their own hearts, and so described their own re 
ligion, and the manner of their intercourse with God, in the writings which they 
have left us, that are a part of the sacred canon. 

The first instance I shall take notice of, is David, that " man after God s 
own heart ;" who has given us a lively portraiture of his religion in the book of 
Psalms. Those holy songs of his he has there left us, are nothing else but the 
expressions and breathings of devout and holy affections ; such as an humble 
and fervent love to God, admiration of his glorious perfections and wonderful 
works, earnest desires, thirstings, and pantings of soul after God, delight and 
joy in God, a sweet and melting gratitude to God, for his great goodness, a 
holy exultation and triumph of soul in the favor, sufficiency, and faithfulness of 
God, his love to, and delight in the saints, the excellent of the earth, his great 
delight in the word and ordinances of God, his grief for his own and others sins, 
and his fervent zeal for God, and against the enemies of God and his church. 
And these expressions of holy affection, which the psalms of David are every 
where full of, are the more to our present purpose, because those psalms are not 
only the expressions of the religion of so eminent a saint, that God speaks of as 
so agreeable to his mind ; but were also, by the direction of the Holy Ghost, 
penned for the use of the church of God in its public worship, not only in that 
age, but in after ages ; as being fitted to express the religion of all saints, in all 
ages, as well as the religion of the Psalmist. And it is moreover to be observed, 
that David, in the book of Psalms, speaks not as a private person, but as the 
Psalmist of Israel, as the subordinate head of the church of God, and leader in 
their worship and praises ; and in many of the psalms speaks in the name of 
Christ, as personating him in these breathings forth of holy affection ; and in 
many other psalms he speaks in the name of the church. 

Another instance I shall observe, is the apostle Paul ; who was in many 
respects, the chief of all the ministers of the New Testament ; being above all 
others, a chosen vessel unto Christ, to bear his name before the Gentiles, and 
made a chief instrument of propagating and establishing the Christian church 


in the world, and of distinctly revealing the glorious mysteries of the gospel, for 
the instruction of the church in all ages; and (as has not been improperly 
thought by some) the most eminent servant of Christ that ever lived, received 
to the highest rewards in the heavenly kingdom of his Master. By what is said 
of him in the Scripture, he appears to have been a person that was full of affec 
tion. And it is very manifest, that the religion he expresses in his epistles, con 
sisted very much in holy affections. It appears by all his expressions of him 
self, that he was, in the course of his life, inflamed, actuated, and entirely swal 
lowed up, by a most ardent love to his glorious Lord, esteeming all things as 
loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of him, and esteeming them but dung 
that he might win him. He represents himself, as overpowered by this holy af 
fection, and as it were compelled by it to go forward in his service, through all 
difficulties and sufferings, 2 Cor. v. 14, 15. And his epistles are full of expres 
sions of an overpowering affection towards the people of Christ. He speaks of 
his dear love to them, 2 Cor. xii. 19, Phil. iv. 1, 2 Tim. i. 2 ; of his " abun 
dant love," 2 Cor. ii. 4 ; and of his " affectionate and tender love," as of a 
nurse towards her children, 1 Thess. ii. 7, 8 : " But we were gentle among you, 
even as a nurse cherisheth her children ; so, being affectionately desirous of you, 
we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also 
our own souls, because ye were dear unto us." So also he speaks of his 
" bowels of love," Phil. i. 8, Philem. 5, 12, and 20. So he speaks of his 
" earnest care" for others, 2 Cor. viii. 16, and of his " bowels of pity, or mercy 
towards them, Phil. ii. 1 ; and of his concern for others, even to anguish of 
heart," 2 Cor. ii. 4 : " For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote 
unto you with many tears ; not that you should be grieved, but that ye might 
know the love which I have more abundantly unto you." He speaks of the 
great conflict of his soul for them, Col. ii. 1. He speaks of great and continual 
grief that he had in his heart from compassion to the Jews, Rom. ix. 2. He 
speaks of " his mouth s being opened, and his heart enlarged" towards Chris 
tians, 2 Cor. vi. 11: " ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart 
is enlarged." He often speaks of his " affectionate and longing desires," 1 
Thess. ii. 8, Rom. i. 11, Phil. i. 8, and chap. iv. 1, 2 Tim. i. 4. The same 
apostle is very often, in his epistles, expressing the affection of joy, 2 Cor. i. 12, 
and chap. vii. 7, and ver. 9. 16. Phil. i. 4, and chap. ii. 12, and chap. iii. 3. 
Col. i. 34. 1 Thess. iii. 9. He speaks of his " rejoicing with great joy," Phil, 
iv. 10, Philem. i. 7 ; of his " joying and rejoicing," Phil. ii. 1, 7, and " of his 
rejoicing exceedingly," 2 Cor. vii. 13, and of his being " filled with comfort, and 
being exceeding joyful," 2 Cor. vii. 4. He speaks of himself as " always rejoic 
ing," 2 Cor. vi. 10. So he speaks of the triumphs of his soul, 2 Cor. ii. 14, 
and of " his glorying in tribulation," 2 Thess. i. 4, and Rom. v. 3. He also 
expresses the affection of hope ; in Phil. i. 20, he speaks of his " earnest ex 
pectation, and his hope." He likewise expresses an affection of godly jealousy, 
2 Cor. xi. 2, 3. And it appears by his whole history, after his conversion, in 
the Acts, and also by all his epistles, and the accounts he gives of himself there, 
that the affection of zeal, as having the cause of his Master, and the interest and 
prosperity of his church, for its object, was mighty in him, continually inflaming 
his heart, strongly engaging to those great and constant labors he went through, 
in instructing, exhorting, warning, and reproving others, " travailing in birth 
with them ;" conflicting with those powerful and innumerable enemies who 
continually opposed him, wrestling with principalities and powers, not fighting 
as one who beats the air, running the race set before him, continuully pressing 
forwards through all manner of difficulties and sufferings; so that others 


thought him quite beside himself. And how full he was of affection, does fur 
ther appear by his being so full of tears : in 2 Cor. ii. 4, he speaks of his 
" many tears ;" and so Acts xx. 19 ; and of his " tears that he shed continually 
night and day," ver. 31. 

Now if any one can consider these accounts given in the Scripture of this 
great apostle, and which he gives of himself, and yet not see that his religion 
consisted much in affection, must have a strange faculty of managing his eyes, 
to shut out the light which shines most full in his face. 

The other instance I shall mention, is of the apostle John, that beloved dis 
ciple, who was the nearest and dearest to his Master, of any of the twelve, and 
was by him admitted to the greatest privileges of any of them ; being not only 
one of the three who were admitted to be present with him in the mount at his 
transfiguration, and at the raising of Jairus s daughter, and whom he took with 
him wiien he was in his agony, and one of the three spoken of by the apostle 
Paul, as the three main pillars of the Christian church ; but was favored above 
all, in being admitted to lean on his Master s bosom at his last supper, and in 
being chosen by Christ, as the disciple to whom he would reveal his wonderful 
dispensations towards his church, to the end of time ; as we have an account in 
the Book of Revelation ; and to shut up the canon of the New Testament, 
and of the whole Scripture ; being preserved much longer than all the rest of 
the apostles, to set all things in order in the Christian church, after their death. 

It is evident by all his writings (as is generally observed by divines) that 
he was a person remarkably full of affection : his addresses to those whom he 
wrote to being inexpressibly tender and pathetical, breathing nothing but the 
most fervent love ; as though he were all made up of sweet and holy affection. 
The proofs of which cannot be given without disadvantage, unless we should 
transcribe his whole writings. 

7. He whom God sent into the world to be the light of the world, and head 
of the whole church, and the perfect example of true religion and virtue, for 
the imitation of all, the Shepherd whom the whole flock should follow wher 
ever he goes, even the Lord Jesus Christ, was a person who was remarkably of 
a tender and affectionate heart ; and his virtue was expressed very much in the 
exercise of holy affections. He was the greatest instance of ardency, vigor 
and strength of love, to both Gcd and man, that ever was. It was these af 
fections which got the victory, in that mighty struggle and conflict of his af 
fections, in his agonies, when " he prayed more earnestly, and offered strong 
crying and tears," and wrestled in tears and in blood. Such was the power of 
the exercises of his holy love, that they were stronger than death, and in that 
great struggle, overcame those strong exercises of the natural affections of fear 
and grief, when he was sore amazed, and his soul was exceeding sorrowful, 
even unto death. And he also appeared to be full of affection in the course of 
his life. We read of his great zeal, fulfilling that in the 69th Psalm, " The 
zeal of thine house hath eaten me up," John ii. 17. We read of his grief for 
the sins of men, Mark iii. 5 : " He looked round about on them with anger, 
being grieved for the hardness of their hearts ;" and his breaking forth in tears 
and exclamations, from the consideration of the sin and misery of ungodly men, 
and on the sight of the city of Jerusalem, which was full of such inhabitants, 
Luke xix. 41, 42 : " And, when he was come near, he beheld the city, and 
wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, 
the things which belong unto thy peace ! But now they are hid from thine 
eyes." With chap. xiii. 34, " O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the pro 
phets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee j how often would I have gath- 


ered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, 
and ye would not !" We read of Christ s earnest desire, Luke xxii. 15 : With 
desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." We often 
read of the affection of pity or compassion in Christ, Matt. xv. 32, and xviii. 34 
Luke vii. 13, and of his " being moved with compassion," Matt. ix. 36, and 
xiv. 14, and Mark vi. 34. And how tender did his heart appear to be, on oc 
casion of Mary s and Martha s mourning for their brother, and coming to him 
with their complaints and tears ! Their tears soon drew tears from his eyes ; 
he was affected with their grief, and wept with them ; though he knew their 
sorrow should so soon be turned into joy, by their brother s being raised from 
the dead ; see John xi. And how ineffably affectionate was that last and dy 
ing discourse, which Jesus had with his eleven disciples the evening before he 
was crucified ; when he told them he was going away, and foretold them the 
great difficulties and sufferings they should meet with in the world, when he 
was gone ; and comforted and counselled them as his dear little children ; and 
bequeathed to them his Holy Spirit, and therein his peace, and his comfort and 
joy, as it were in his last will and testament, in the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th 
chapters of John ; and concluded the whole with that affectionate intercessory 
prayer for them, and his whole church, in chap. xvii. Of all the discourses ever 
penned, or uttered by the mouth of any man, this seems to be the most affec 
tionate and affecting. 

8. The religion of heaven consists very much in affection. 
There is doubtless true religion in heaven, and true religion in its utmost 
purity arid perfection. But according to the Scripture representation of the 
heavenly state, the religion of heaven consists chiefly in holy and mighty love 
and joy, and the expression of these in most fervent and exalted praises". So 
that the religion of the saints in heaven, consists in the same things with that 
religion of the saints on earth, which is spoken of in our text, viz., love, ano 
"joy unspeakable and full of glory." Now it would be very foolish to pretend, 
that because the saints in heaven be not united to flesh and blood, and have no 
animal fluids to be moved (through the laws of union of soul and body) with 
those great emotions of their souls, that therefore their exceeding love and joy 
are no affections. We are not speaking of the affections of the body, but of 
the affections of the soul, the chief of which are love and Joy. When these are 
in the soul, whether that be in the body or out of it, the soul is affected and 
moved. And when they are in the soul, in that strength in which they are in 
the saints in heaven, the soul is mightily affected and moved, or, which is the 
same thing, has great affections. It is true, we do not experimentally know 
what love and joy are in a soul out of a body, or in a glorified body ; i. e., we 
have not had experience of love and joy in a soul in these circumstances ; but 
the saints on earth do know what divine love and joy in the soul are, and they 
know that love and joy are of the same kind with the love and joy which are 
in heaven, in separate souls there. The love and joy of the saints on earth, is 
the beginning and dawning of the light, life, and blessedness of heaven, and is 
like their love and joy there; or rather, the same in nature, though not the 
same with it, or like to it, in degree and circumstances. This is evident by 
many Scriptures, as Prov. iv. 18 ; John iv. 14, and chap. vi. 40, 47, 50, 51, 
54, 58 ; 1 John iii. 15 ; 1 Cor. xiii. 8 12. It is unreasonable therefore to sup 
pose, that the love and joy of the saints in heaven, not only differ in degree and 
circumstances, from the holy love and joy of the saints on earth, but is so en 
tirely different in nature, that they are no affections ; and merely because the} 
have no blood and animal spirits to be set in motion by them, which motion of 


the blood and animal spirits is not of the essence of these affections, in men on 
the earth, but the effect of them ; although by their reaction they may make 
some circumstantial difference in the sensation of the mind. There is a sensa 
tion of the mind which loves and rejoices, that is antecedent to any effects on 
the fluids of the body ; and this sensation of the mind, therefore, does not de 
pend on these motions in the body, and so may be in the soul without the body. 
And wherever there are the exercises of love and joy, there is that sensation 
of the mind, whether it be in the body or out ; and that inward sensation, or 
kind of spiritual sense, or feeling, and motion of the soul, is what is called af 
fection : the soul when it thus feels (if I may say so), and is thus moved, is said 
to be affected, and especially when this inward sensation and motion are to a 
very high degree, as they are in the saints in heaven. If we can learn any 
thing of the state of heaven from the Scripture, the love and joy that the saints 
have there, is exceeding great and vigorous ; impressing the heart with the 
strongest and most lively sensation of inexpressible sweetness, mightily moving, 
animating, and engaging them, making them like a flame of fire. And if such 
love and joy be not affections, then the word affection is of no use in language. 
Will any say, that the saints in heaven, in beholding the face of their Father, 
and the glory of their Redeemer, and contemplating his wonderful works, and 
particularly his laying down his life for them, have their hearts nothing moved 
and affected by all which they behold or consider ? 

Hence, therefore, the religion of heaven, consisting chiefly in holy love and 
joy, consists very much in affection ; and therefore, undoubtedly, true religion 
consists very much in affection. The way to learn the true nature of any thing, 
is to go where that thing is to be found in its purity and perfection. If we 
would know the nature of true gold we must view it, not in the ore, but when 
it is refined. If we would learn what true religion is, we must go where there 
is true religion, and nothing but true religion, and in its highest perfection, 
without any defect or mixture. All who are truly religious are not of this 
world, they are strangers here, and belong to heaven ; they are born from above, 
heaven is their native country, and the nature which they receive by this 
heavenly birth, is a heavenly nature, they receive an anointing from above ; 
that principle of true religion which is ia them, is a communication of the reli 
gion of heaven ; their grace is the dawn of glory ; and God fits them for that 
world by conforming them to it. 

9. This appears from the nature and design of the ordinances and duties, 
which God hath appointed, as means and expressions of true religion. 

To instance in the duty of prayer : it is manifest, we are not appointed in 
this duty, to declare God s perfections, his majesty, holiness, goodness, and all- 
sufficiency, and our own meanness, emptiness, dependence, and unworthiness, 
and our wants and desires, to inform God of these things, or to incline his heart, 
and prevail with him to be willing to show us mercy ; but suitably to affect 
our own hearts with the things we express, and so to prepare us to receive the 
blessings we ask. And such gestures and manner of external behavior in the 
worship of God, which custom has made to be significations of humility and 
reverence, can be of no further use than as they have some tendency to affect 
our own hearts, or the hearts of others. 

And the duty of singing praises to God seems to be appointed wholly to ex 
cite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned why we 
should express ourselves to God in verse, rather than in prose, and do it with 
music, but only, that such is our nature and frame, that these things have a 
tendency to move our affections. 


The same thing appears in the nature and design of the sacraments, which 
God hath appointed. God, considering our frame, hath not only appointed that 
we should be told of the great things of the gospel, and of the redemption of 
Christ, and instructed in them by his word ; but also that they should be, as it 
were, exhibited to our view, in sensible representations, in the sacraments, the 
more to affect us with them. 

And the impressing divine things on the hearts and affections of men, is 
evidently one great and main end for which God has ordained that his word de 
livered in the holy Scriptures, should be opened, applied, arid set home upon men, 
in preaching. And therefore it does not answer the aim which God had in 
this institution, merely for men to have good commentaries and expositions on 
the Scripture, and other good books of divinity ; because, although these may 
tend as well as preaching to give men a good doctrinal or speculative under 
standing of the things of the word of God, yet they have not an equal tendency 
to impress them on men s hearts and affections. God hath appointed a par 
ticular and lively application of his word to men in the preaching of it, as a fit 
means to affect sinners with the importance of the things of religion, and their 
own misery, and necessity of a remedy, and the glory and sufficiency of a reme 
dy provided ; and to stir up the pure minds of the saints, and quicken their 
affections, by often bringing the great things of religion to their remembrance, 
and setting them before them in their proper colors, though they know them, 
and have been fully instructed in them already, 2 Pet. i. 12, 13. And particu 
larly, to promote those two affections in them, which are spoken of in the text, 
love and joy : " Christ gave some, apostles ; and some, prophets ; and some, 
evangelists ; and some, pastors and teachers ; that the body of Christ might be 
edified in love," Eph. iv. 11, 12, 16. The apostle in instructing and counselling 
Timothy concerning the work of the ministry, informs him that the great end of 
that word which a minister is to preach, is love or charity, 1 Tim. 3, 4, 5. And 
another affection which God has appointed preaching as a means to promote in 
the saints, is joy ; and therefore ministers are called " helpers of their joy," 2 
Cor. i. 24. 

10. It is an evidence that true religion, or holiness of heart, lies very much 
in the affection of the heart, that the Scriptures place the sin of the heart very 
much in hardness of heart. Thus the Scriptures do everywhere. It was hard 
ness of heart which excited grief and displeasure in Christ towards the Jews, 
Mark iii. 5 : " He looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for 
the hardness of their hearts." It is from men s having such a heart as this, that 
they treasure up wrath for themselves : Rom. ii. 5, " After thy hardness and im 
penitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and 
revelation of the righteous judgment of God." The reason given why the house 
of Israel would not obey God, was, that they were hard-hearted : Ezekiel iii. 7, 
" But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee ; for they will not hearken 
unto me : for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted." The wick 
edness of that perverse rebellious generation in the wilderness, is ascribed to the 
hardness of their hearts : Psal. xcv. 7 10, " To-day if ye will hear his voice, 
harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in 
the wilderness ; when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work : 
forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that 
do err in their heart," &c. This is spoken of as what prevented Zedekiah s 
turning to the Lord : 2 Chron. xxxvi. 13, " He stiffened his neck, and hardened 
his heart from turning to the Lord God of Israel." This principle is spoken of, 
as that from whence men are without the fear of God, and depart from God s 


ways : Isa. Ixiii. 17, " Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, 
and hardened our heart from thy fear ?" And men s rejecting Christ, and op 
posing Christianity, is laid to this principle : Acts xix. 9, " But when divers 
were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multi 
tude." God s leaving men to the power of the sin and corruption of the heart, 
is often expressed by God s hardening their hearts : Rom. ix. 18, " Therefore 
hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardenelh." 
John xii. 40, " He hath blinded their minds, and hardened their hearts." And 
the apostle seems to speak of " an evil heart that departs from the living God. 
and a hard heart," as the same thing : Heb. iii. 8, " Harden not your heart, as 
in the provocation," &c. ; ver. 12, 13, " Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any 
of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God : but exhort 
one another daily, while it is called to-day ; lest any of you be hardened through 
the deceitfulness of sin." And that great work of God in conversion, which 
consists in delivering a person from the power of sin, and mortifying corruption, 
is expressed, once and again, by God s " taking away the heart of stone, and giv 
ing a heart of flesh," Ezek. xi. 19, and chap, xxxvi. 26. 

Now by a hard heart, is plainly meant an unaffected heart, or a heart not easy 
to be moved with virtuous affections, like a stone, insensible, stupid, unmoved, 
and hard to be impressed. Hence the hard heart is called a stony heart, and is 
opposed to a heart of flesh, that has feeling, and is sensibly touched and moved. 
We read in Scripture of a hard heart, and a tender heart ; and doubtless we 
are to understand these, as contrary the one to the other. But what is a tender 
heart, but a heart which is easily impressed with what ought to affect it ? God 
commends Josiah, because his heart was tender ; and it is evident by those 
things which are mentioned as expressions and evidences of this tenderness of 
heart, that by his heart being tender is meant, his heart being easily moved with 
religious and pious affection : 2 Kings xxii. 19, " Because thine heart was ten 
der, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I 
spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should 
become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before 
me, I also have heard thee, saith the Lord." And this is one thing, wherein it is 
necessary we should "become as little children, in order to our entering into the 
kingdom of God," even that we should have our hearts tender, and easily af 
fected and moved in spiritual and divine things, as little children have in othei 

It is very plain in some places, in the texts themselves, that by hardness of 
heart is meant a heart void of affection. So, to signify the ostrich s being 
without natural affection to her young, it is said, Job xxxix. 16, " She harden- 
eth her heart against her young ones, as though they were not hers." So a per 
son having a heart unaffected in time of danger, is expressed by his hardening 
his heart : Prov. xxviii. 14, " Happy is the man that feareth alway ; but he 
thathardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief." 

Now, therefore, since it is so plain, that by a hard heart, in Scripture, is 
meant a heart destitute of pious affections, and since also the Scriptures do so 
frequently place the sin and corruption of the heart in hardness of heart ; it is 
evident, that the grace and holiness of the heart, on the contrary, must, in a 
great measure, consist in its having pious affections, and being easily suscep 
tive of such affection. Divines are generally agreed, that sin radically and 
fundamentally consist in what is negative, or privative, having its root and 
foundation in a privation or want of holiness. And therefore undoubtedly, if it 
be so that sin does very much consist in hardness of heart, and so in the want of 
VOL. III. 3 


pious affections of heart, holiness does consist very much in those pious affec 

I am far from supposing that all affections do show a tender heart : hatred, 
anger, vainglory, and other selfish and self-exalting affections, may greatly pre 
vail in the hardest heart. But yet it is evident, that hardness of heart and 
tenderness of heart, are expressions that relate to the affection of the heart, and 
denote the heart s being susceptible of, or shut up against certain affections ; of 
which I shall have occasion to speak more afterwards. 

Upon the whole, I think it clearly and abundantly evident, that true religion 
lies very much in the affections. Not that I think these arguments prove, that 
religion in the hearts of the truly godly, is ever in exact proportion to the degree 
of affection, and present emotion of the mind : for undoubtedly, there is much 
affection in the true saints which is not spiritual ; their religious affections are 
often mixed ; all is not from grace, but much from nature. And though the 
affections have not their seat in the body ; yet the constitution of the body 
may very much contribute to the present emotion of the mind. And the degree 
of religion is rather to be judged of by the fixedness and strength of the habit 
that is exercised in affection, whereby holy affection is habitual, than by the 
degree of the present exercise ; and the strength of that habit is not always in 
proportion to outward effects arid manifestations, or inward effects, in the hurry 
and vehemence, and sudden changes of the course of the thoughts of the mind. 
But yet it is evident, that religion consists so much in affection, as that without 
holy affection there is no true religion ; and no light in the understanding is 
good, which does not produce holy affection in the heart : no habit or principle 
in the heart is good, which has no such exercise ; and no external fruit is good, 
which does not proceed from such exercises. 

Having thus considered the evidence of the proposition laid down, I proceed 
to some inferences. 

1. We may hence learn how great their error is, who are for discarding all 
religious affections, as having nothing solid or substantial in them. 

There seems to be too much of a disposition this way, prevailing in this land 
at this time. Because many who, in the late extraordinary season, appeared to 
have great religious affections, did not manifest a right temper of mind, and run 
into many errors, in the time of their affections, and the heat of their zeal ; and 
because the high affections of many seem to be so soon come to nothing, and 
some who seemed to be mightily raised and swallowed up with joy and zeal, for 
a while, seem to have returned like the dog to his vomit ; hence religious af 
fections in general are grown out of credit with great numbers, as though true 
religion did not at all consist in them. Thus we easily and naturally run from 
one extreme to another. A little while ago we were in the other extreme ; 
there was a prevalent disposition to look upon all high religious affections as 
eminent exercises of true grace, without much inquiring into the nature and 
source of those affections, and the manner in which they arose : if persons 
did but appear to be indeed very much moved and raised, so as to be full of re 
ligious talk, and express themselves with great warmth and earnestness, and to 
be filled, or to be very full, as the phrases were ; it was too much the manner, 
without further examination, to conclude such persons were full of the Spirit of 
God, and had eminent experience of his gracious influences. This was the ex 
treme which was prevailing three or four years ago. But of late, instead of 
esteeming and admiring all religious affections without distinction, it is a thing 
much more prevalent, to reject and discard all without distinction. Herein 
appears the subtilty of Satan. While he saw that affections were much in vogue, 


knowing the greater part of the land were not versed in such things, and had 
not had much experience of great religious affections to enable them to judge 
well of them, and distinguish between true and false ; then he knew he could 
best play his game, by sowing tares amongst the wheat, and mingling false 
affections with the works of God s Spirit : he knew this to be a likely way to 
delude and eternally ruin many souls, and greatly to wound religion in the saints, 
and entangle them in a dreadful wilderness, and by and by, to bring all religion 
into disrepute. 

But now, when the ill consequences of these false affections appear, 
and it is become very apparent, that some of those emotions which made a 
glaring show, and were by many greatly admired, were in reality nothing ; the 
devil sees it to be for his interest to go another way to work, and to endeavor 
to his utmost to propagate and establish a persuasion, that all affections and 
sensible emotions of the mind, in things of religion, are nothing at all to be re 
garded, but are rather to be avoided, and carefully guarded against, as things 
of a pernicious tendency. This he knows is the way to bring all religion to a 
mere lifeless formality, and effectually shut out the power of godliness, and every 
thing which is spiritual, and to have all true Christianity turned out of doors. 
For although to true religion there must indeed be something else besides affec 
tion ; yet true religion conists so much in the affections, that there can be no 
true religion without them. He who has no religious affection, is in a state of 
spiritual death, and is wholly destitute of the powerful, quickening, saving in 
fluences of the Spirit of God upon his heart. As there is no true religion where 
there is nothing else but affection, so there is no true religion where there is no 
religious affection. As on the one hand, there must be light in the understand 
ing, as well as an affected fervent heart ; where there is heat without light, there 
can be nothing divine or heavenly in that heart ; so on the other hand, where 
there is a kind of light without heat, a head stored with notions and speculations, 
with a cold and unaffected heart, there can be nothing divine in that light, that 
knowledge is no true spiritual knowledge of divine things. If the great things 
of religion are rightly understood, they will affect the heart. The reason why 
men are not affected by such infinitely great, important, glorious, and wonderful 
things, as they often hear and read of, in the word of God, is undoubtedly be 
cause they are blind ; if they were not so, it would be impossible, and utterly 
inconsistent with human nature, that their hearts should be otherwise than 
strongly impressed, and greatly moved by such things. 

This manner of slighting all religious affections, is the way exceedingly to 
harden the hearts of men, and to encourage them in their stupidity and senseless 
ness, and to keep them in a state of spiritual death as long as they live, and 
bring them at last to death eternal. The prevailing prejudice against religious af 
fections at this day, in the land, is apparently of awful effect to harden the Hearts 
of sinners, and damp the graces of many of the saints, and stun the life and 
power of religion, and preclude the effect of ordinances, and hold us down in a 
state of dulness and apathy, and undoubtedly causes many persons greatly to 
offend God, in entertaining mean and low thoughts of the extraordinary work 
he has lately wrought in this land. 

And for persons to despise and cry down all religious affections, is the way 
to shut all religion out of their own hearts, and to make thorough work in ruin 
ing their souls. 

They who condemn high affections in others, are certainly not likely to have 
high affections themselves. And let it be considered, that they who have but 
little religious affection, have certainlv but little religion. And they who con- 


demn others for their religious affections, and have none themselves, have no 

There are false affections, and there are true. A man s having much af 
fection, does not prove that he has any true religion : but if he has no affection, 
it proves that he has no true religion. The right way, is not to reject all affec 
lions, nor to approve all ; but to distinguish between affections, approving some, 
and rejecting others ; separating between the wheat and the chaff, the gold and 
the dross, the precious and the vile. 

2. If it be so, that true religion lies much in the affections, hence we may 
infer, that such means are to be desired, as have much of a tendency to move 
the affections. Such books, and such a way of preaching the word, and admin 
istration of ordinances, and such a way of worshipping God in prayer, and 
singing praises, is much to be desired, as has a tendency deeply to affect the 
hearts of those who attend these means. 

Such a kind of means would formerly have been highly approved of, and 
applauded by the generality of the people of the land, as the most excellent and 
profitable, and having the greatest tendency to promote the ends of the means 
of grace. But the prevailing taste seems of late strangely to be altered : that 
pathetical manner of praying and preaching, which would formerly have been 
admired and extolled, and that for this reason, because it had such a tendency 
to move the affections, now, in great multitudes, immediately excites disgust, and 
moves no other affections, that those of displeasure and contempt. 

Perhaps, formerly the generality (at least of the common people) were in 
the extreme, of looking too much to an affectionate address, in public perform 
ances : but now, a very great part of the people seem to have gone far into a 
contrary extreme. Indeed there may be such means, as may have a great ten 
dency to stir up the passions of weak and ignorant persons, and yet have no 
great tendency to benefit their souls : for though they may have a tendency to 
excite affections, they may have little or none to excite gracious affections, or 
any affections tending to grace. But undoubtedly, if the things of religion, in 
the means used, are treated according to their nature, and exhibited truly, so as 
tends to convey just apprehensions, and a right judgment of them ; the more 
they have a tendency to move the affections the better. 

3. If true religion lies much in the affections, hence we may learn, what 
great cause we have to be ashamed and confounded before God, that we are 
no more affected with the great things of religion. It appears from what has 
been said, that this arises from our having so little true religion. 

God has given to mankind affections, for the same purpose which he has 
given all the faculties and principles of the human soul for, viz., that they might 
be subservient to man s chief end, and the great business for which God has cre 
ated him, that is, the business of religion. And yet how common is it among 
mankind, that their affections are much more exercised and engaged in other 
matters, than in religion ! In things which concern men s worldly interest, 
their outward delights, their honor and reputation, and their natural relations, 
they have their desires eager, their appetites vehement, their love warm and af 
fectionate, their zeal ardent ; in these things their hearts are tender and sensi 
ble, easily moved, deeply impressed, much concerned, very sensibly affected, and 
greatly engaged ; much depressed with grief at worldly losses, and highly rais 
ed with joy at worldly successes and prosperity. But how insensible and un 
moved are most men, about the great things of another world ! How dull are 
their affections ! How heavy and hard their hearts in these matters ! Here 
their love is cold, their desires languid, their zeal low, and their gratitude small. 


How they can sit and hear of the infinite height, and depth, and length, and 
breadth of the love of God in Christ Jesus, of his giving his infinitely dear Son, 
to be offered up a sacrifice for the sins of men, and of the unparalleled love of 
the innocent, and holy, and tender Lamb of God, manifested in his dying ago 
nies, his bloody sweat, his loud and bitter cries, and bleeding heart, and all this 
for enemies, to redeem them from deserved, eternal burnings, and to bring to un 
speakable and everlasting joy and glory ; and yet be cold, and heavy, insensible, 
and regardless ! Where are the exercises of our affections proper, if not here 1 
What is it that does more require them 1 And what can be a fit occasion of 
their lively and vigorous exercise, if not such a one as this ? Can any thing- 
be set in our view, greater and more important ? Any thing more wonderful 
and surprising ? Or more nearly concerning our interest ? . Can we suppose 
the wise Creator implanted such principles in the human nature as the affections, 
to be of use to us, and to be exercised on certain proper occasions, but to lie 
still on such an occasion as this ? Can any Christian who believes the truth 
of these things, entertain such thoughts ? 

If we ought ever to exercise our affections at all, and if the Creator has not 
unwisely constituted the human nature in making these principles a part of it,, 
when they are vain and useless ; then they ought to be exercised about those 
objects which are most worthy of them. But is there any thing which Chris 
tians can find in heaven or earth, so worthy to be the objects of their admira 
tion and love, their earnest and longing desires, their hope, and their rejoicing, 
and their fervent zeal, as those things that are held forth to us in the gospel of 
Jesus Christ ? In which not only are things declared most worthy to affect us, 
but they are exhibited in the most affecting manner. The glory and beauty of 
the blessed Jehovah, which is most worthy in itself, to be the object of our ad 
miration and love, is there exhibited in the most affecting manner that can be 
conceived of, as it appears, shining in all its lustre, in the face of an incarnate, 
infinitely loving, meek, compassionate, dying Redeemer. All the virtues of 
the Lamb of God, his humility, patience, meekness, submission, obedience, love 
and compassion, are exhibited to our view, in a manner the most tending to 
move our affections, of any that can be imagined ; as they all had their greatest 
trial, and their highest exercise, and so their brightest manifestation, when he 
was in the most affecting circumstances ; even when he was under his last suf 
ferings, those unutterable and unparalleled sufferings he endured, from his tender 
love and pity to us. There also the hateful nature of our sins is manifested in 
the most affecting manner possible : as we see the dreadful effects of them, in 
what our Redeemer, who undertook to answer for us, suffered for them. And 
there we have the most affecting manifestation of God s hatred of sin, and his 
wrath and justice in punishing it ; as we see his justice in the strictness and in- 
flexibleness of it ; and his wrath in its terribleness, in so dreadfully punishing 
our sins, in one who was infinitely dear to him, and loving to us. So has God 
disposed things, in the affair of our redemption, and in his glorious dispensations, 
revealed to us in the gospel, as though every thing were purposely contrived in 
such a manner, as to have the greatest possible tendency to reach our hearts in 
the most tender part, and move our affections most sensibly and strongly. How 
great cause have we therefore to be humbled to the dust, that we are no more 
affected ! 




IF any one, on the reading of what has been just now said, is ready to acquit 
himself, and say, " I am not one of those who have no religious affections ; I 
am often greatly moved with the consideration of the great things of religion :" 
let him not content himself with this, that he has religious affections : for as we 
observed before, as we ought not to reject and condemn all affections, as though 
true religion did not at all consist in affection ; so on the other hand, we ought 
not to approve of all, as though every one that was religiously affected had 
true grace, and was therein the subject of the saving influences of the Spirit of 
God ; and that therefore the right way is to distinguish among religious affec 
tions, between one sort and another. Therefore let us now endeavor to do this; 
and in order to do it, I would do two things. 

I. I would mention some things, which are no signs one way or the other, 
either that affections are such as true religion consists in, or that they are other 
wise ; that we may be guarded against judging of affections by false signs. 

II. I would observe some things, wherein those affections which are spir 
itual and gracious, differ from those which are not so, and may be distinguished 
and known. 

FIRST, I would take notice of some things, which are no signs that affec 
tions are gracious, or that they are not. 

I. It is no sign one way or the other, that religious affections are very great, 
or raised very high. 

Some are ready to condemn all high affections : if persons appear to have 
their religious affections raised to an extraordinary pitch, they are prejudiced 
against them, and determine that they are delusions, without further inquiry. 
But if it be, as has been proved, that true religion lies very much in religious 
affections, then it follows, that if there be a great deal of true religion, there 
will be great religious affections ; if true religion in the hearts of men be raised 
to a great height, divine and holy affections will be raised to a great height. 

Love is an affection, but will any Christian say, men ought not to love God 
and Jesus Christ in a high degree ? And will any say, we ought not to have 
a very great hatred of sin, and a very deep sorrow for it ? Or that we ought 
not to exercise a high degree of gratitude to God for the mercies we receive of 
him, and the great things he has done for the salvation of fallen men ? Or that 
we should not have very great and strong desires after God and holiness ? Is 
there any who will profess, that his affections in religion are great enough ; and 
will say, " I have no cause to be humbled, that I am no more affected with the 
things of religion than 1 am ; I have no reason to be ashamed, that I have no 
greater exercises of love to God and sorrow for sin, and gratitude for the mer 
cies which I have received ?" Who is there that will bless God that he is 
affected enough with what he has read and heard of the wonderful love of God 
to worms and rebels, in giving his only begotten Son to die for them, and of the 
dying love of Christ ; and will pray that he may not be affected with them in 
any higher degree, because high affections are improper, and very unlovely in 
Christians, being enthusiastical, and ruinous to true religion ? 


Our text plainly speaks of great and high affections when it speaks of " re~ 
joicing with joy unspeakable, and full of glory :" here the most superlative 
expressions are used, which language will afford. And the Scriptures often 
require us to exercise very high affections : thus in the first and great command 
ment of the law, there is an accumulation of expressions, as though words were 
wanting to express the degree in which we ought to love God : " Thou shalt 
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, 
and with all thy strength." So the saints are called upon to exercise high 
degrees of joy : " Rejoice," says Christ to his disciples, " and be exceeding 
glad," Matt. v. 12. So it is said, Psalm Ixviii. 3, " Let the righteous be glad : 
let them rejoice before God : yea, let them exceedingly rejoice." So in the 
same book of Psalms, the saints are often called upon to shout for joy ; and in 
Luke vi. 23, to leap for joy. So they are abundantly called upon to exercise 
high degrees of gratitude for mercies, to " praise God with all their hearts, with 
hearts lifted up in the ways of the Lord, and their souls magnifying the Lord, 
singing his praises, talking of his w r ondrous works, declaring his doings, &c." 

And we find the most eminent saints in Scripture often professing high 
affections. Thus the Psalmist speaks of his love, as if it were unspeakable ; 
Psal. cxix. 97, " how love I thy law !" So he expresses a great degree of 
hatred of sin, Psal. cxxxix. 21, 22 : " Do not I hate them, Lord, that hate 
thee 1 And am not I grieved with them that rise up against thee ? I hate them, 
with perfect hatred." He also expresses a high degree of sorrow for sin : he 
speaks of his sins " going over his head as a heavy burden that was too heavy 
for him : and of his roaring all the day, and his moisture being turned into the 
drought of summer," and his bones being as it were broken with sorrow. So 
he often expresses great degrees of spiritual desires, in a multitude of the strong 
est expressions which can be conceived of; such as " his longing, his soul s 
thirsting as a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, his panting, his flesh and 
heart crying out, his soul s breaking for the longing it hath," &c. He expresses 
the exercises of great and extreme grief for the sins of others, Psal. cxix. 136, 
" Rivers of water run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law." And 
verse 53, " Horror hath taken hold upon me, because of the wicked that forsake 
thy law." He expresses high exercises of joy, Psal. xxi. 1 : " The king shall 
joy in thy strength, and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice." Psal. 
Ixxi. 23, " My lips shall greatly rejoice when 1 sing unto thee." Psal. Ixiii. 3, 
4, 5, 6, 7, " Because thy loving kindness is better than life; my lips shall praise 
thee. Thus will I bless thee, while I live : I will lift up my hands in thy name. 
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness ; and my mouth shall 
praise thee with joyful lips ; when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate 
on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help ; therefore in 
the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice." 

The Apostle Paul expresses high exercises of affection. Thus he expresses 
the exercises of pity and concern for others good, even to anguish of heart ; a 
great, fervent, and abundant love, and earnest and longing desires, and exceeding 
joy ; and speaks of the exultation and triumphs of his soul, and his earnest ex 
pectation and hope, and his abundant tears, and the travails of his soul, in pity, 
grief, earnest desires, godly jealousy, and fervent zeal, in many places that have 
been cited already, and which therefore I need not repeat. John the Baptist 
expressed great joy, John iii. 39. Those blessed women that anointed the body 
of Jesus, are represented as in a very high exercise of religious affection, on 
occasion of Christ s resurrection, Matt, xxviii. 8 : " And they departed from the 
sepulchre with fear and great joy." 


It is often foretold of the church of God, in her future happy seasons here 
on earth, that they shall exceedingly rejoice : Psal. Ixxxix. 15, 16, " They shall 
walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. In thy name shall they rejoice 
all the day : and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted." Zech. ix. 9, 

" Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion ; shout, daughter of Jerusalem : behold, 
thy King cometh," &c. The same is represented in innumerable other places. 

"uits of the gospel 
of great joy, that 

"V ^ - A11 & "*^-"j v^^- A AJLG same icpicscuieu in IllllUIIiei! 

And because high degrees of joy are the proper and genuine fruits of the gospel 
of Christ, therefore the angel calls this gospel, " good tidings 

should be to all people." 

The saints and angels in heaven, that have religion in its highest perfection, 
are exceedingly affected with what they behold and contemplate of God s per 
fections and works. They are all as a pure heavenly flame of fire in their love, 
and in the greatness and strength of their joy and gratitude : their praises are 
represented, " as the voice of many waters and as the voice of a great thunder." 
Now the only reason why their affections are so much higher than the holy 
affections of saints on earth, is, they see the things they are affected by, more 
according to their truth, and have their affections more conformed to the nature 
of things. And therefore, if religious affections in men here below, are but of 
the same nature and kind with theirs, the higher they are, and the nearer they 
are to theirs in degree, the better, because therein they will be so much the more 
conformed to truth, as theirs are. 

From these things it certainly appears, that religious affections being in a 
very high degree, is no evidence that they are not such as have the nature of true 
religion. Therefore they do greatly err, who condemn persons as enthusiasts, 
merely because their affections are very high. 

And on the other hand, it is no evidence that religious affections are of a 
spiritual and gracious nature, because they are great. It is very manifest by the 
holy Scripture, our sure and infallible rule to judge of things of this nature, that 
there are religious affections which are very high, that are not spiritual and 
saving. The Apostle Paul speaks of affections in the Galatians, which had 
been exceedingly elevated, and which yet he manifestly speaks of, as fearing 
that they were vain, and had come to nothing : Gal. iv. 15, " Where is the 
blessedness you spoke of? For I bear you record, that if it had been possible, 
you would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me." And 
in the llth verse, he tells them, "he was afraid of them, lest he had bestowed 
upon them labor in vain." So the children of Israel were greatly affected with 
God s mercy to them, when they had seen how wonderfully he wrought for 
them at the Red Sea, where they sang God s praise ; though they soon forgat 
his works. So they were greatly affected again at mount Sinai, when they 
saw the marvellous manifestations God made of himself there ; and seemed 
mightily engaged in their minds, and with great forwardness made answer, 
when God proposed his holy covenant to them, saying, " All that the Lord hath 
spoken will we do, and be obedient." But how soon was there an end to all 
this mighty forwardness and engagedness of affection ! How quickly were they 
turned aside after other gods, rejoicing and shouting around their golden calf ! 
So great multitudes who were affected with the miracle of raising Lazarus from 
the dead, were elevated to a high degree, and made a mighty ado, when Jesus 
presently after entered into Jerusalem, exceedingly magnifying Christ, as though 
the ground were not good enough for the ass he rode to tread upon ; and there 
fore cut branches of palm trees, and strewed them in the way ; yea, pulled off 
their garments, and spread them in the way ; and cried with loud voices, " Ho- 
sanna to the Son of David, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, 


hosanna in the highest ;" so as to make the whole city ring again, and put ah 
into an uproar. We learn by the evangelist John, that the reason why the 

Cople made this ado, was because they were affected with the miracle of raising 
izarus, John xii. 18. Here was a vast multitude crying Hosanna on this oc 
casion, so that it gave occasion to the Pharisees to say, " Behold, the world has 
gone after him," John xii. 19, but Christ had at that time but few true disci 
ples. And how quickly was this ado at an end ! All of this nature is quelled 
and dead, when this Jesus stands bound, with a mock robe and a crown of 
thorns, to be derided, spit upon, scourged, condemned and executed. Indeed, 
there was a great and loud outcry concerning him among the multitude then, as 
well as before ; but of a very different kind : it is not then, Hosanna, hosanna, 
but Crucify, crucify. 

And it is the concurring voice of all orthodox divines, that there may be 
religious affections, which are raised to a very high degree, and yet there be 
nothing of true religion.* 

II. It is no sign that affections have the nature of true religion, or that they 
have not, that they have great effects on the body. 

All affections whatsoever, have in some respect or degree, an effect on the 
body. As was observed before, such is our nature, and such are the laws of 
union of soul and body, that the mind can have no lively or vigorous exercise, 
without some effect upon the body. So subject is the body to the mind, and so 
much do its fluids, especially the animal spirits, attend the motions and exercises 
of the mind, that there cannot be so much as an intense thought, without an 
effect upon them. Yea, it is questionable whether an irnbodied soul ever so 
much as thinks one thought, or has any exercise at all, but that there is some 
corresponding motion or alteration ol motion, in some degree, of the fluids, in 
some part of the body. But universal experience shows, that the exercise of 
the affections have in a special manner a tendency to some sensible effect upon 
the body. And if this be so, that all affections have some effect upon the body, 
we may then well suppose, the greater those affections be, and the more vigor 
ous their exercise (other circumstances being equal) the greater will be the effect 
on the body. Hence it is not to be wondered at, that very great and strong 
exercises of the affections should have great effects on the body. And therefore, 
seeing there are very great affections, both common and spiritual ; hence it is 
riot to be wondered at, that great effects on the body should arise from both 
these kinds of affections. And consequently these effects are no signs, that the 
affections they arise from, are of one kind or the other. 

Great effects on the body certainly are no sure evidences that affections are 
spiritual ; for we see that such effects oftentimes arise from great affections 
about temporal things, and when religion is no way concerned in them. And 
if great affections about secular things, that are purely natural, may have these 
effects, I know not by what rule we should determine that high affections about 
religious things, which arise in like manner from nature, cannot have the like 

Nor, on the other hand, do I know of any rule any have to determine, that 
gracious and holy affections, when raised as high as any natural affections, and 
have equally strong and vigorous exercises, cannot have a great effect on the 
body. No such rule can be drawn from reason : I know of no reason, why a 
being affected with a view of God s glory should not cause the body to faint, as 
well as being affected with a view of Solomon s glory. And no such rule has 

* Mr. Stoddara observes, " That common affections are sometimes stronger than saving." GUIDE TO 
CHRIST, p. 2.. 

VOL. Ill, 4 


as yet been produced from the Scripture ; none has ever been found in all the 
late controversies which have been about things of this nature. There is a 

great power in spiritual affections : we read of the power which worketh in 
hristians,* and of the Spirit of God being in them as the Spirit of power,f and 
of the effectual working of his power in them.J But man s nature is weak : 
flesh and blood are represented in Scripture as exceeding weak ; and particularly 
with respect to its unfitness for great spiritual and heavenly operations and ex 
ercises, Matt. xxvi. 41, 1 Cor. xv. 43, and 50. The text we are upon speaks 
of " joy unspeakable, and full of glory." And who that considers what man s 
nature is, and what the nature of the affections is, can reasonably doubt but that 
such unutterable and glorious joys, maybe too great and mighty for weak dust and 
ashes, so as to be considerably overbearing to it ? It is evident by the Scripture, 
that true divine discoveries, or ideas of God s glory, when given in a great degree, 
have a tendency, by affecting the mind, to overbear the body ; because the Scrip 
ture teaches us often, that if these ideas or views should be given to such a degree, 
as they are given in heaven, the weak frame of the body could not subsist under 
it, and that no man can, in that manner, see God and live. The know 
ledge which the saints have of God s beauty and glory in this world, and those 
holy affections that arise from it, are of the same nature and kind with what the 
saints are the subjects of in heaven, differing only in degree and circumstances : 
what God gives them here, is a foretaste of heavenly happiness, and an earnest 
of their future inheritance. And who shall limit God in his giving this earnest, 
or say he shall give so much of the inheritance, such a part of the future reward, 
as an earnest of the whole, and no more ? And seeing God has taught us in 
his word, that the whole reward is such, that it would at once destroy the body, 
is it not too bold a thing for us, so to set bounds to the sovereign God, as to say, 
that in giving the earnest of this reward in this world, he shall never give so 
much of it, as in the least to diminish the strength of the body, when God has 
nowhere thus limited himself ? 

The Psalmist, speaking of the vehement religious affections he had, speaks 
of an effect in his flesh or body, besides what was in his soul, expressly distin 
guishing one from the other, once and again : Psal. Ixxxiv. 2, " My soul longeth, 
yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord : my heart and my flesh crieth 
out for the living God." Here is a plain distinction between the heart and 
the flesh, as being each affected. So Psal. Ixiii. 1, " My soul thirsteth for thee, 
my flesh longeth for thee, in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is." Here 
also is an evident designed distinction between the soul and the flesh. 

The prophet Habakkuk speaks of his body s being overborne by a sense of 
the majesty of God, Hab. iii. 16 : " When I heard, my belly trembled : my lips 
quivered at the voice: rottenness enter into my bones, and I trembled in 
myself." So the Psalmist speaks expressly of his flesh trembling, Psal. cxix. 120 : 
" My flesh trembleth for fear of thee." 

That such ideas of God s glory as are sometimes given in this world, have a 
tendency to overbear the body, is evident, because the Scripture gives us an ac 
count, that this has sometimes actually been the effect of those external mani 
festations God has made of himself to some of the saints which were made to 
that end, viz., to give them an idea of God s majesty and glory. Such instances 
we have in the prophet Daniel, and the apostle John. Daniel, giving an ac 
count of an external representation of the glory of Christ, says, Dan. x. 8, " And 
there remained no strength in me; for my comeliness was turned into corrup- 

* Eph. iii. 7. t 2 Tim. i. 7. $ Eph. iii. 7, 20. || Eph. i. 19, 


tion, arid I retained no strength." And the apostle John, giving an account of 
a like manifestation made to him, says, Rev. i. 17, " And when I saw him, I fell 
at his feet as dead." It is in vain to say here, these were only external manifes 
tations or symbols of the glory of Christ, which these saints beheld : for though 
it be true, that they were outward representations of Christ s glory, which they 
beheld with their bodily eyes ; yet the end and use of these external symbols 
or representations was to give to these prophets an idea of the thing represented, 
and that was the true divine glory and majesty of Christ, which is his spiritual 
glory ; they were made use of only as significations of this spiritual glory, and thus 
undoubtedly they received them, and improved them, and were affected by them. 
According to the end for which God intended these outward signs, they receiv 
ed by them a great and lively apprehension of the real glory and majesty of 
God s nature, which they were signs of; and thus were greatly affected, their 
souls swallowed up, and their bodies overborne. And I think they are very 
bold and daring, who will say God cannot, or shall not give the like clear and 
affecting ideas and apprehensions of the same real glory and majesty of his nature, 
to any of his saints, without the intervention of any such external shadows of it. 

Before I leave this head, I would farther observe, that it is plain the Scrip 
ture often makes use of bodily effects, to express the strength of holy and spirit 
ual affections ; such as trembling,* groaning,f being sick,J crying out,|| pant- 
ing, and fainting.1I Now if it be supposed, that these are only figurative ex 
pressions, to represent the degree of affection : yet I hope all will allow, 
that they are fit and suitable figures to represent the high degree of those spirit 
ual affections, which the Spirit of God makes use of them to represent ; which 
I do not see how they would be, if those spiritual affections, let them be in never 
so high a degree, have no tendency to any such things ; but that on the con 
trary, they are the proper effects and sad tokens of false affections, and the de 
lusion of the devil. I cannot think, God would commonly make use of things 
which are very alien from spiritual affections, and are shrewd marks of the hand 
of Satan, and smell strong of the bottomless pit, as beautiful figures, to represent 
the high degree of holy and heavenly affections. 

lit. It is no sign that affections are truly gracious affections, or that they 
are not, that they cause those who have them to be fluent, fervent, and abun 
dant, in talking of the things of religion. 

There are many persons, who, if they see this in others, are greatly preju 
diced against them. Their being so full of talk, is with them a sufficient 
ground to condemn them, as Pharisees, and ostentatious hypocrites. On the 
other hand, there are many, who if they see this effect in any, are very ignorant- 
ly and imprudently forward, at once to determine that they are the true chil 
dren of God, and are under the saving influences of his Spirit, and speak of 
it as a great evidence of a new creature ; they say, " such a one s mouth is 
now opened : he used to be slow to speak ; but now he is full and free ; he 
is free now to open bis heart, and tell his experiences, and declare the praises 
of God ; it comes from him, as free as water from a fountain ;" and the like. 
And especially are they captivated into a confident and undoubting persuasion, 
that they are savingly wrought upon, if they are not only free and abundant, 
but very affectionate and earnest in their talk. 

But this is the fruit of but little judgment, a scanty and short experience ; 
as events do abundantly show : and is a mistake persons often run into, through 

* Psal. cxix. 120. Ezra ix. 4. Isa. Ixvi. 2, 5. Hah. iii. 16. t Rom. viii. 26. t Cant. ii. 5, and 
v. 8. || Psal. Ixxxiv. 2. Psal. xxxviii. 10, andxlii. 1, and cxix. 131. IT Psal. Ixxxiv. 2, and cxix. 81 . 


their trusting to their own wisdom and discerning, and making their own rotions 
their rule, instead of the holy Scripture. Though the Scripture be full of rules, 
both how we should judge of our own state, and also how we should be con 
ducted in our opinion of others ; yet we have nowhere any rule, by which to 
judge ourselves or others to be in a good estate, from any such effect : for this 
is but the religion of the mouth and of the tongue, and what is in the Scrip 
ture represented by the leaves of a tree, which, though the tree ought not to be 
without them, yet are nowhere given as an evidence of the goodness of 
the tree. 

That persons are disposed to be abundant in talking of things of religion, 
may be from a good cause, and it may be from a bad one. It may be because 
their hearts are very full of holy affections ; " for out of the abundance of the 
heart the mouth speaketh :" and it may be because persons hearts are very full 
of religious affection which is not holy ; for still out of the abundance of the 
heart the mouth speaketh. It is very much the nature of the affections, ol 
whatever kind they be, and whatever objects they are exercised about, if they 
are strong, to dispose persons to be very much in speaking of that which they 
are affected with : and not only to speak much, but to speak very earnestly and 
fervently. And therefore persons talking abundantly and very fervently about 
the things of religion, can be an evidence of no more than this, that they are 
very much affected with the things of religion; but this may be (as has been 
already shown) and there be no grace. That which men are greatly affected 
with, while the high affection lasts, they will be earnestly engaged about, and 
will be likely to show that earnestness in their talk and behavior ; as the greater 
part of the Jews, in all Judah and Galilee, did for a while, about John the 
Baptist s preaching and baptism, when they were willing for a season to rejoice 
in his light ; a mighty ado was made, all over the land, and among all sorts of 
persons, about this great prophet and his ministry. And so the multitude, in 
like manner, often manifested a great earnestness, a mighty engagedness of spirit, 
in every thin^ that was external, about Christ and his preaching and miracles, 
" being astonished at his doctrine, anon with joy receiving the word," following 
him sometimes night and day, leaving meat, drink, and sleep to hear him : once 
following him into the wilderness, fasting three days going to hear him ; some 
times crying him up to the clouds, saying, " Never man spake like this man !" 
being fervent and earnest in what they said. But what did these things come 
to, in the greater part of them ? 

A person may be over full of talk of his own experiences ; commonly fall 
ing upon it, everywhere, and in all companies ; and when it is so, it is rather 
a dark si^n than a good one. As a tree that is over full of leaves seldom bears 
much fruit ; and as a cloud, though to appearance very pregnant and full of 
water, if it brings with it overmuch wind, seldom affords much rain to the dry and 
thirsty earth ; which very thing the Holy Spirit is pleased several times to 
make use of, to represent a great show of religion with the mouth, without an 
swerable fruit in the life : Prov. xxv. 24, " Whoso boasteth himself of a false 
gift, is like clouds and wind without rain." And the apostle Jude, speaking of 
some in the primitive times, that crept in unawares among the saints, and hav 
ing a great show of religion, were for a while not suspected, " These are clouds 
(says he) without water, carried about of winds," Jude ver. 4 and 12. And 
the apostle Peter, speaking of the same, says, 2 Pet. ii. 17, " These are clouds 
without water, carried with a tempest." 

False affections, if they are equally strong, are much more forward to de- 


clare themselves, than true : because it is the nature of false religion, tc affect 
show and observation ; as it was with the Pharisees.* 

IV. It is no sign that affections are gracious, or that they are otherwise, 
that persons did not make them themselves, or excite them of their own con 
trivance, and by their own strength. 

There are many in these days, that condemn all affections which are excited 
in a way that the subjects of them can give no account of, as not seeming to be 
the fruit of any of their own endeavors, or the natural consequence of the facul 
ties and principles of human nature, in such circumstances, and under such 
means ; but to be from the influence of some extrinsic and supernatural power 
upon their minds. How greatly has the doctrine of the inward experience, 
or sensible perceiving of the immediate power and operation of the Spirit of 
God, been reproached and ridiculed by many of late ! They say, the man 
ner of the Spirit of God is to co-operate in a silent, secret, and uridiscernible way 
with the use of means, and our own endeavors ; so that there is no distinguish 
ing by sense, between the influences of the Spirit of God, and the natural oper 
ations of the faculties of our own minds. 

And it is true, that for any to expect to receive the saving influences of the 
Spirit of God, while they neglect a diligent improvement of the appointed means 
of grace, is unreasonable presumption. And to expect that the Spirit of God 
will savingly operate upon their minds, without the Spirit s making use of 
means, as subservient to the effect, is enthusiastical. It is also undoubtedly 
true, that the Spirit of God is very various in the manner and circumstances of 
his operations, and that sometimes he operates in a way more secret and gra 
dual, and from smaller beginnings, than at others. 

But if there be indeed a power, entirely different from, and beyond our 
power, or the power of all means and instruments, and above the power of 
nature, which is requisite in order to the production of saving grace in the heart, 
according to the general profession of the country ; then, certainly it is in no 
wise unreasonable to suppose, that this effect should very frequently be pro 
duced after such a manner, as to make it very manifest, apparent, and sensible 
that it is so. If grace be indeed owing to the powerful and efficacious operation 
of an extrinsic agent, or divine efficient out of ourselves, why is it unreasonable 
to suppose it should seem to be so to them who are the subjects of it ? Is it a 
strange thing, that it should seem to be as it is ? When grace in the heart in 
deed is not produced by our strength, nor is the effect of the natural power of 
our own faculties, or any means or instruments, but is properly the workman 
ship and production of the Spirit of the Almighty, is it a strange and unaccount 
able thing, that it should seem to them who are subjects of it, agreeable to 
truth, and not right cbntrary to truth ; so that if persons tell of effects that they 
are conscious to in their own minds, that seem to them not to be from the natural 
power or operation of their minds, but from the supernatural power of some 

* That famous experimental divine, Mr. Shepherd, says, " A Pharisee s trumpet shall be heard to the 
town s end ; when simplicity walks through the town unseen. Hence a man will sometimes covertly com 
mend himself (and myself ever comes in), and tells you a long story of conversion ; and a hundred to one 
if some lie or other slip not out with it. Why, the secret meaning is, I pray admire me. Hence complain 
of wants and weaknesses : Pray think what a broken-hearted Christian lam." Parab. of the Ten Virgins. 
Part I. pages 179, 180. 

And holy Mr. Flavel says thus : " O reader, if thy heart were right with God, and thou didst not cheat 
thyself with a vain profession, thou wouldst have frequent business with God, which thou wouldst be loth 
thy dearest friend, or the wife of thy bosom should be privy to. Non est religio, ubi omnia patent. Reli 
gion doth not lie open to all, to the eyes of men, Observed duties maintain our credit ; but secret duties 
maintain our life. It was the saying of a heathen, about his secret correspondency with his friend, What 
need the world be acquainted with it ? Thou and I are theatre enough to each other. There are inclosed pleasures 
in religion, which none but renewed spiritual souls do feelingly understand." FlaveVs Touchstone of 
Sincerity, Chap, II. Sect. 2. 


other agent, it should at once be looked upon as a sure evidence of their being 
under a delusion, because things seem to them to be as they are ? For this is 
the objection which is made : it is looked upon as a clear evidence, that the 
apprehensions and affections that many persons have, are not really from such 
a cause, because they seem to them to be from that cause : they declare that 
what they are conscious of, seems to them evidently not to be from themselves, 
but from the mighty power of the Spirit of God ; and others from hence con 
demn them, and determine what they experience is not from the Spirit of God, 
but from themselves, or from the devil. Thus unreasonably are multitudes 
treated at this day by their neighbors. 

If it be indeed so, as the Scripture abundantly teaches, that grace in the soul 
is so the effect of God s power, that it is fitly compared to those effects which 
are farthest from being owing to any strength in the subject, such as a genera 
tion, or a being begotten, and resurrection, or a being raised from the dead, and 
creation, or a being brought out of nothing into being, and that it is an effect 
wherein the mighty power of God is greatly glorified, and the exceeding great 
ness of his power is manifested ;* then what account can be given of it, that the 
Almighty, in so great a work of his power, should so carefully hide his power, 
that the subjects of it should be able to discern nothing of it ? Or what reason 
or revelation have any to determine that he does so ? Tf we may judge by the 
Scripture this is not agreeable to God s manner, in his operations and dispensa 
tions; but on the contrary, it is God s manner, in the great works of his power 
and mercy which he works for his people, to order things so as to make his 
hand visible, and his power conspicuous, and men s dependence on him most 
evident, that no flesh should glory in his presence,! that God alone might be 
exalted,! and that the excellency of the power might be of God and not of man, 
and that Christ s power might be manifested in our weakness,|| and none might 
say mine own hand hath saved me.TF So it was in most of those temporal sal 
vations which God wrought for Israel of old, which were types of the salvation of 
God s people from their spiritual enemies. So it was in the redemption of Israel 
from their Egyptian bondage ; he redeemed them with a strong hand, and an out 
stretched arm ; and that his power might be the more conspicuous, he suffered 
Israel first to be brought into the most helpless and forlorn circumstances. So 
it was in the great redemption by Gideon ; God would have his army diminished 
to a handful, and they without any other arms than trumpets and lamps, and 
earthen pitchers. So it was in the deliverance of Israel from Goliath, by a stripling 
with a sling and a stone. So it was in that great work of God, his calling 
the Gentiles, and converting the Heathen world, after Christ s ascension, after 
that the world by wisdom knew not God, and all the endeavors of philosophers 
had proved in vain, for many ages, to reform the world, and it was by every 
thing become abundantly evident, that the world was utterly helpless, by any 
thing else but the mighty power of God. And so it was in most of the conver 
sions of particular persons, we have an account of in the history of the New 
Testament : they were not wrought on in that silent, secret, gradual, and insensi 
ble manner, which is now insisted on ; but with those manifest evidences of a 
supernatural power, wonderfully and suddenly causing a great change, which 
in these clays are looked upon as certain signs of delusion and enthusiasm. 

The Apostle, in Eph. i. 18, 19, speaks of God s enlightening the minds of 
Christians, and so bringing them to believe in Christ, to the end that they might 
know the exceeding greatness of his power to them who believe. The words 

* Eph. i 17 20 t 1 Cor. i. 27, 28,29. t Isa. ii. 1 17. 1 *, J 2 Cor. xii. 9. IT Judg. vii. 2 


are, " The eyes of your understanding being enlightened ; that ye may know 
what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inherit 
ance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us ward 
who believe, according to the working of his mighty power," &c. Now when 
the apostle speaks of their being thus the subjects of his power, in their enlight 
ening and effectual calling, to the end that they might know what his mighty 
power was to them who believe, he can mean nothing else than, " that they 
might know by experience." But if the saints know this power by experience, 
then they feel it and discern it, and are conscious of it ; as sensibly distinguish 
able from the natural operations of their own minds, which is not agreeable to a 
notion of God s operating so secretly, and undiscernably, that it cannot be known 
that they are the subjects of the influence of any extrinsic power at all, any 
otherwise than as they may argue it from Scripture assertions; which is a dif 
ferent thing from knowing it by experience. 

So that it is very unreasonable and unscriptural to determine that affections 
are not from the gracious operations of God s Spirit, because they are sensibly 
not from the persons themselves that are the subjects of them. 

On the other hand, it is no evidence that affections are gracious, that they 
are not properly produced by those who are the subjects of them, or that they 
arise in their minds in a manner they cannot account for. 

There are some who make this an argument in their own favor; when 
speaking of what they have experienced, they say, " I am sure I did not make 
it myself; it was a fruit of no contrivance or endeavor of mine ; it came when 
I thought nothing of it ; if I might have the world for it, I cannot make it again 
when I please." And hence they determine that what they have experienced, 
must be from the mighty influence of the Spirit of God, and is of a saving 
nature ; but very ignorantly, and without grounds. What they have been the 
subjects of, may indeed not be from themselves directly, but may be from the 
operation of an invisible agent, some spirit besides their own : but it does not 
thence follow, that it was from the Spirit of God. There are other spirits who 
have influence on the minds of men, besides the Holy Ghost. We are directed 
not to believe every spirit, but to try the spirits, whether they be of God. There 
are many false spirits, exceeding busy with men, who often transform themselves 
into angels of light, and do in many wonderful ways, with great subtilty and 
power, mimic the operations of the Spirit of God. And there are many of 
Satan s operations, which are very distinguishable from the voluntary exercises 
of men s own minds. They are so, in those dreadful and horrid suggestions, 
and blasphemous injections with which he follows many persons ; and in vain 
and fruitless frights and terrors, which he is the author of. And the power of 
Satan may be as immediate, and as evident in false comforts and joys, as in 
terrors and horrid suggestions ; and oftentimes is so in fact. It is not in men s 
power to put themselves in such raptures, as the Anabaptists in Germany, and 
many other raving enthusiasts like them, have been the subjects of. 

And besides, it is to be considered that persons may have those impressions 
on their minds, which may not be of their own producing, nor from an evil 
spirit, but from the Spirit of God, and yet not be from any saving, but a com 
mon influence of the Spirit of God ; and the subjects of such impressions may 
be of the number of those we read of, Heb. vi. 4, 5, " that are once enlightened, 
and taste of the heavenly gift, and are made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and 
taste the good word of God, and the power of the world to come ;" and yet may 
be wholly unacquainted with those " better things that accompany salvation," 
spoken of yer. 9. 


And where neither a good nor evil spirit have any immediate hand, persons, 
especially such as are of a weak and vapory habit of body, and the brain weak 
and easily susceptive of impressions, may have strange apprehensions and im 
aginations, and strong affections attending them, unaccountably arising, which 
are not voluntarily produced by themselves. We see that such persons are liable 
to such impressions about temporal things ; and there is equal reason, why they 
should about spiritual things. As a person who is asleep has dreams that he is 
not the voluntary author of; so may such persons, in like manner, be the sub 
jects of involuntary impressions, when they are awake. 

V. It is no sign that religious affections are truly holy and spiritual, or that 
they are not, that they come with texts of Scripture, remarkably brought to the 

It is no sign that affections are not gracious, that they are occasioned by Scrip 
tures so coming to mind ; provided it be the Scripture itself, or the truth 
which the Scripture so brought contains and teaches, that is the foundation of 
the affection, and not merely, or mainly, the sudden and unusual manner of its 
coming to the mind. 

But on the other hand, neither is it any sign that affections are gracious, 
that they arise on occasion of Scriptures brought suddenly and wonderfully to 
the mind ; whether those affections be fear or hope, joy or sorrow, or any other. 
Some seem to look upon this as a good evidence that their affections are saving, 
especially if the affections excited are hope or joy, or any other which are pleas 
ing and delightful. They will mention it as an evidence that all is right, that 
their experience came with the word, and will say, " There were such and such 
sweet promises brought to my mind : they came suddenly, as if they were spoken 
to me : I had no hand in bringing such a text to my own mind ; I was not 
thinking of any thing leading to it ; it came all at once, so that I was surprised. 
1 had not thought of it a long time before ; I did not know at first that it was 
Scripture ; I did not remember that ever I had read it." And it may be, they 
will add, " One Scripture came flowing in after another, and so texts all over the 
Bible, the most sweet and pleasant, and the most apt and suitable which could 
be devised ; and filled me full as I could hold : I could not but stand and ad 
mire : the tears flowed ; I was full of joy, and could not doubt any longer." 
And thus they think they have undoubted evidence that their affections must be 
from God, and of the right kind, and their state good : but without any manner 
of grounds. How came they by any such rule, as that if any affections or ex 
periences arise with promises, and comfortable texts of Scripture, unaccountably 
brought to mind, without their recollection, or if a great number of sweet texts 
follow one another in a chain, that this is a certain evidence their experiences 
are saving ? Where is any such rule to be found in the Bible, the great and only 
sure directory in things of this nature ? 

Wha! deceives many of the less understanding and considerate sort of peo 
ple, in this matter, seems to be this ; that the Scripture is the word of God, and 
has nothing in it which is wrong, but is pure and perfect; and therefore, those 
experiences which come from the Scripture must be right. But then it should 
be considered, affections may arise on occasion of the Scripture, and not proper 
ly come from the Scripture, as the genuine fruit of the Scripture, and by a right 
use of it ; but from an abuse of it. All that can be argued from the purity 
and perfection of the word of God, with respect to experiences, is this, that 
those experiences which are agreeable to the word of God, are right, and cannot 
be otherwise ; and not that those affections must be right, which arise on oc 
casion of the word of God coming to the mind. 


What evidence is there that the devil cannot bring texts of Scripture to the 
mind, and misapply them to deceive persons ? There seems to be nothing in 
this which exceeds the power of Satan. It is no WCIK of such mighty power, 
to bring sounds or letters to persons minds, that we have any reason to suppose 
nothing short of Omnipotence can be sufficient for it. If Satan has power to 
bring any words or sounds at all to persons minds, he may have power to bring 
words contained in the Bible. There is no higher sort of power required in 
men, to make the sounds which express the words of a text of Scripture, tjhan 
to make the sounds which express the words of an idle story or song. And 
so the same power in Satan, which is sufficient to renew one of those kinds of 
sounds in the mind, is sufficient to renew the other : the different signification, 
which depends wholly on custom, alters not the case, as to ability to make or 
revive the sounds or letters. Or will any suppose, that texts or Scriptures are 
such sacred things, that the devil durst not abuse them, nor touch them ? In this 
also they are mistaken. He who was bold enough to lay hold on Christ him 
self, and carry him hither and thither, into the wilderness, and into a high 
mountain, and to a pinnacle of the temple, is not afraid to touch the Scripture, 
and abuse that for his own purpose ; as he showed at the same time that he was 
so bold with Christ, he then brought one Scripture and another, to deceive and 
tempt him. And if Satan did presume, and was permitted to put Christ him 
self in mind of texts of Scripture to tempt him, what reason have we determine 
that he dare not, or will not be permitted, to put wicked men in the mind of 
texts of Scripture, to tempt and deceive them ? And if Satan may thus abuse 
one text of Scripture, so he may another. Its being a very excellent place of 
Scripture, a comfortable and precious promise, alters not the case, as to his 
courage or ability. And if he can bring one comfortable text to the mind, 
so he may a thousand ; and may choose out such Scriptures as tend most to serve 
his purpose ; and may heap up Scripture promises, tending, according to the 
perverse application he makes of them, wonderfully to remove the rising doubts, 
and to confirm the false joy and confidence of a poor deluded sinner. 

We know the devil s instruments, corrupt and heretical teachers, can and do 
pervert the Scripture, to their own and others damnation, 2 Pet. iii. 16. We 
see they have the free use of Scripture, in every part of it : there is no text so 
precious and sacred, but they are permitted to abuse it, to the eternal ruin of 
multitudes of souls ; and there are no weapons they make use of with which they 
do more execution. And there is no manner of reason to determine, that the 
devil is not permitted thus to use the Scripture, as well as his instruments. For 
when the latter do it, they do it as his instruments and servants, and through 
his instigation and influence: and doubtless he does the same he instigates others 
to do ; the devil s servants do but follow their master, and do the same work 
that he does himself. 

And as the devil can abuse the Scripture, to deceive and destroy men, so 
may men s own folly and corruptions as well. The sin which is in men, acts like 
its father. Men s own hearts are deceitful like the devil, and use the same 
means to deceive. 

So that it is evident, that any person may have high affections of hope and 
joy, arising on occasion of texts of Scripture, yea, precious promises of Scrip 
ture coming suddenly and remarkably to their minds, as though they were 
spoken to them, yea, a great multitude rf such texts, following one another in a 
wonderful manner ; and yet all this be no argument that these affections are di 
vine, or that they are any other than the effects of Satan s delusions. 

And I would further observe, that persons may have raised and joyful affec- 

VOL. III. 5 


tions, which may come with the word of God, and not only so, but from the word, 
and those affections not be from Satan, nor yet properly from the corruptions of 
their own hearts, but from some influence of the Spirit of God with the word, 
and yet have nothing of the nature of true and saving religion in them. Thus 
the stony ground hearers had great joy from the word ; yea, which is represent 
ed as arising from the word, as growth from a seed ; and their affections had, in 
their appearance, a very great and^exact resemblance with those represented by 
the growth on the good ground, the difference not appearing until it was dis 
covered by the consequences in a time of trial: and yet there was no saving 
religion in these affections.* 

VI. It is no evidence that religious affections are saving, or that they are 
otherwise, that there is an appearance of love in them. 

There are no professing Christians who pretend, that this is an argument 
ao-ainst the truth and saving nature of religious affections. But, on the other 
hand, there are some who suppose, it is a good evidence that affections are from 
the sanctifying and saving influences of the Holy Ghost. Their argument is 
that Satan cannot love ; this affection being directly contrary to the devil, whose 
very nature is enmity and malice. And it is true, that nothing is more excellent, 
heavenly, and divine, than a spirit of true Christian love to God and men : it is 
more excellent than knowledge, or prophecy, or miracles, or speaking with the 
tongue of men and angels. It is the chief of the graces of God s Spirit, and the life, 
essence and sum of all true religion ; and that by which we are most conform 
ed to heaven, and most contrary to hell and the devil. But yet it is ill argu 
ing from hence, that there are no counterfeits of it. It may be observed that 
the more excellent any thing is, the more will be the counterfeits of it. Thus 
there are many more counterfeits of silver and gold, than of iron and copper : 
there are many false diamonds and rubies, but who goes about to counterfeit 
common stones ? Though the more excellent things are, the more difficult it 
is to make any thing that shall be like them, in their essential nature and inter 
nal virtues ; yet the more manifold will the counterfeits be, and the more will 
art and subtilty be displayed, in an exact imitation of the outward appearance. 
Thus there is the greatest danger of being cheated in buying of medicines that 
are most excellent and sovereign, though it be most difficult to imitate them with 
any thing of the like value and virtue, and their counterfeits are good for noth 
ing when we have them. So it is with Christian virtues and graces ; the sub 
tilty of Satan, and men s deceitful hearts, are wont chiefly to be exercised in 
counterfeiting those that are in highest repute. So there are perhaps no 
graces that have more counterfeits than love and humility ; these being virtues 
wherein the beauty of a true Christian does especially appear. 

But with respect to love ; it is plain by the Scripture, that persons may have 
a kind of religious love, and yet have no saving grace. Christ speaks of many 
professing Christians that have such love, whose love will not continue, and so 
shall fail of salvation, Matt. xxiv. 12, 13 : " And because iniquity shall abound, 
the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the 
same shall be saved." Which latter words plainly show, that those spoken 
of before, whose love shall not endure to the end, but wax cold, should not be 

Persons may seem to have love to God and Christ, yea, to have very strong 

* Mr. Stoddard in his Guide to Christ, speaks of it as a common thing, for persons while in a natural 
condition, and before they have ever truly accepted of Christ, to have Scripture promises come to them, 
with a great deal of refreshing : which they take as tokens of God s love, and hope that God has accepted 
them ; and so are confident of their good estate Pages 8, 9. Impression anno 1735. 


and violent affections of this nature, and yet have no grace. For this was evi 
dently the case with many graceless Jews, such as cried Jesus up so high, fol 
lowing him day and night, without meat, drink, or sleep ; such as said, " Lord, 

1 will follow thee whithersoever thou goest," and cried, " Hosanna to the Son 
of David."* 

The apostle seems to intimate, that there were many in his days who had a 
counterfeit love to Christ, in Eph. vi. 24 : " Grace be with all them that love 
our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." The last word, in the original, signifies in- 
cormption ; which shows, that the apostle was sensible that there were many 
who had a kind of love to Christ, whose love was not pure and spiritual. 

So also Christian love to the people of God may be counterfeited. It ie 
evident by the Scripture, that there may be strong affections of this kind, with 
out saving grace ; as there were in the Galatians towards the Apostle Paul, 
when they were ready to pluck out their eyes and give them to him ; although 
the apostle expresses his fear that their affections were come to nothing, and 
that he had bestowed upon them labor in vain, Gal. iv. 11, 15. 

VII. Persons having religious affections of many kinds, accompanying one 
another, is not sufficient to determine whether they have any gracious affec 
tions or no. 

Though false religion is wont to be maimed and monstrous, and not to have 
that entireness and symmetry of parts, which is to be seen in true religion : yet 
there may be a great variety of false affections together, that may resemble 
gracious affections. 

It is evident that there are counterfeits of all kinds of gracious affections ; 
as of love to God, and love to the brethren, as has been just now observed; so 
of godly sorrow for sin, as in Pharaoh, Saul, and Ahab, and the children of 
Israel in the wilderness, Exod. ix. 27, 1 Sam. xxiv. 16, 17, and xxvi. 21, 1 
Kings xxi. 27, Numb. xiv. 39, 40 ; and of the fear of God, as in the Samari 
tans, " who feared the Lord, and served their own gods at the same time," 2 
Kings xvii. 32, 33 ; and those enemies of God we read of, Psal. Ixvi. 3, who, 
" through the greatness of God s power, submit themselves to him," or, as it is 
in the Hebrew, " lie unto him,"i. e., yield a counterfeit reverence and submis 
sion. So of a gracious gratitude, as in the children of Israel, who sang God s 
praise at the Red Sea, Psal. cvi. 12 ; and Naaman the Syrian, after his miracu 
lous cure of his leprosy, 2 Kings v. 15, &c. 

So of spiritual joy, as in the stony ground hearers, Matt. xiii. 20, and par 
ticularly many of John the Baptist s hearers, John v. 35. So of zeal, as in Jehu, 

2 Kings x. 16, and in Paul before his conversion, Gal. i. 14, Phil. iii. 6, and the 
unbelieving Jews, Acts xxii. 3, Rom. x. 2. So graceless persons may have 
earnest religious desires, which may be like Baalam s desires, which he ex 
presses under an extraordinary view that he had of the happy state of God s 
people, as distinguished from all the rest of the world, Numb, xxiii. 9, 10. 
They may also have a strong hope of eternal life, as the Pharisees had. 

And as men, while in a state of nature, are capable of a resemblance of all 
kinds of religious affections, so nothing hinders but that they may have many 
of them together. And what appears in fact, does abundantly evince that it is 
very often so indeed. It seems commonly to be so, that when false affections are 
raised high, many false affections attend each other. The multitude that attended 

* Agreeable to this, Mr. Stoddard observes, in his Guide to Christ, that some sinners have pangs of 
affection, and give an account that they find a spirit of love to God, and of their aiming at the glory of God, 
having that which has a great resemblance of saving grace ; and that sometimes their common affections 
are stronger than saving. And supposes, that sometimes natural men may have such violent pangs of 
false affection to God, that they may think themselves willing to be damned. Pages 21, and 65. 


Christ into Jerusalem, after that great miracle of raising Lazarus, seem to have 
been moved with many religious affections at qnce, and all in a high degree. 
They seem to have been filled with admiration, and there was a show of a 
high affection of love, and also of a great degree of reverence, in their laying 
their garments on the ground for Christ to tread upon ; and also of great grati 
tude to him, for the great and good works he had wrought, praising him with 
loud voices for his salvation ; and earnest desires of the coming of God s king 
dom, which they supposed Jesus was now about to set up, and showed great 
hopes and raised expectations of it, expecting it would immediately appear ; and 
hence were filled with joy, by which they were so animated in their acclama 
tions, as to make the whole city ring with the noise of them ; and appeared 
great in their zeal and forwardness to attend Jesus, and assist him without fur 
ther delay, now in the time of the great feast of the passover,to set up his king 
dom. And it is easy, from nature, and the nature of the affections, to give an 
account why, when one affection is raised very high, that it should excite others ; 
especially if the affection which is raised high, be that of counterfeit love, as it 
was in the multitude who cried Hosanna. This will naturally draw many other 
affections after it. For, as was observed before, love is the chief of the affec 
tions, and as it were the fountain of them. Let us suppose a person who has 
been for some time in great exercise and terror through fear of hell, and his 
heart weakened with distress and dreadful apprehensions, and upon the brink 
of despair, and is all at once delivered, by being firmly made to believe, through 
some delusion of Satan, that God has pardoned him, and accepts him as the ob 
ject of his dear love, and promises him eternal life ; as suppose through some 
vision, or strong idea or imagination, suddenly excited in him, of a person with 
a beautiful countenance, smiling on him, and with arms open, and with blood 
dropping down, which the person conceives to be Christ, without any other en 
lightening of the understanding, to give a view of the spiritual divine excellency 
of Christ and his fulness ; and of the way of salvation revealed in the gospel : 

be immediately spoken by God to him, though there was no preceding accept 
ance of Christ, or closing of the heart with him : I say, if we should suppose 
such a case, what various passions would naturally crowd at once, or one after 
another, into such a person s mind ! It is easy to be accounted for, from mere 
principles of nature, that a person s heart, on such an occasion, should be raised 
up to the skies with transports of joy ; and be filled with fervent affection, to 
that imaginary God or Redeemer, who he supposes has thus rescued him from 
the jaws of such dreadful destruction, that his soul was so amazed with the fears 
of, and has received him with such endearment, as a peculiar favorite ; and that 
now he should be filled with admiration and gratitude, and his mouth should be 
opened, and be full of talk about what he has experienced ; and that, for a while, 
he should think and speak of scarce any thing else, and should seem to magnify 
that God who has done so much for him, and call upon others to rejoice with 
him, and appear with a cheerful countenance, and talk with a loud voice : and 
however, before his deliverance, he was full of quarrellings against the justice 
of God, that now it should be easy for him to submit to God, and own his un- 
worthiness, and cry out against himself, and appear to be very humble before 
God, and lie at his feet as tame aa a lamb; and that he should now confess his 
unworthiness, and cry out, " Why me ? Why me ?" (Like Saul, who when 
Samue! told him that God had appointed him to be king, makes answer, " Am 


not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my i amilv the least 
of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin ? Wherefore then speakest thou 
so to me ?" Much in the language of David, the true saint, 2 Sam. vii. 18, 
" Who am I, and what is my father s house, that thou has brought me hither 
to ?") Nor is it to be wondered at, that now he should delight to be with them 
who acknowledge and applaud his happy circumstances, and should love all 
such as esteem and admire him and what he has experienced, and have violent 
zeal against all such as would make nothing of such things, and be disposed 
openly to separate, and as it were to proclaim war with all who be not of his 
party, and should now glory in his sufferings, and be very much for condemn 
ing and censuring all who seem to doubt, or make any difficulty of these things ; 
and while the warmth of his affections lasts, should be mighty forward to take 
pains, and deny himself, to promote the interest of the party who he imagines 
favors such things, and seem earnestly desirous to increase the number of them, 
as the Pharisees compassed sea and land to make one proselyte* And so I 
might go on, and mention many other things, which will naturally arise in such 
circumstances. He must have but slightly considered human nature, who thinks 
such things as these cannot arise in this manner, without any supernatural inter 
position of divine power. 

As from true divine love flow all Christian affections., so from a counterfeit 
love in like manner naturally flow other false affections. In both cases, love is 
the fountain, and the other affections are the streams. The various faculties, 
principles, and affections of the human nature, are as it were many channels 
from one fountain : if there be sweet water in the fountain, sweet water will 
from thence flow out into those various channels ; but if the water in the foun 
tain be poisonous, then poisonous streams will also flow out into all those chan 
nels. So that the channels and streams will be alike, corresponding one W 7 ith 
another ; but the great difference will lie in the nature of the water. Or, man s 
nature may be compared to a tree, with many branches, coming from one root : 
if the sap in the root be good, there will also be good sap distributed through 
out the branches, and the fruit that is brought forth will be good and whole 
some ; but if the sap in the root and stock be poisonous, so it will be in many 
branches (as in the other case), and the fruit will be deadly. The tree in both 
cases may be alike ; there may be an exact resemblance in shape ; but the dif 
ference is found only in eating the fruit. It is thus (in some measure at least) 
oftentimes between saints and hypocrites. There is sometimes a very great si 
militude between true and false experiences, in their appearance, and in what is 
expressed and related by the subjects of them : and the difference between them 
is much like the difference between the dreams of Pharaoh s chief butler and ba 
ker ; they seemed to be much alike, insomuch that when Joseph interpreted the 
chief butler s dream, that he should be delivered from his imprisonment, and 
restored to the king s favor, and his honorable office in the palace, the chief 
baker had raised hopes and expectations, and told his dream also ; but he was 
wofully disappointed ; and though his dream was so much like the happy and 
well boding dream of his companion, yet it was quite contrary in its issue. 

VIII. Nothing can certainly be determined concerning the nature of the affec 
tions, by this, that comforts and joys seem to follow awakenings and convictions 
of conscience, in a certain order. 

" Associating with godly men does not prove that a man has grace : Ahithophel was David s com 
panion. Sorrows for the afflictions of the church, and desires for the conversioa of souls, do not prove it. 
These things may be found in carnal men, and so can be no evidence of grace." Stoddard s Nature of 
Saving Conversion, p. 82. 


Many persons seem to be prejudiced against affections and experiences that 
come in such a method, as has been much insisted on by many divines ; first, 
such awakenings, fears, and awful apprehensions, followed with such legal 
humblings, in a sense of total sinfulness and helplessness, and then, such and 
such light and comfort ; they look upon all such schemes, laying down such 
methods and steps, to be of men s devising ; and particularly if high affections 
of joy follow great distress and terror, it is made by many an argument against 
those affections. But such prejudices and objections are without reason or 
Scripture. Surely it cannot be unreasonable -to suppose, that before God deli 
vers persons from a state of sin and exposedness to eternal destruction, he should 
give them some considerable sense of the evil he delivers from ; that they may 
be delivered sensibly, and understand their own salvation, and know something 
of what God does for them. As men that are saved are in two exceeding dif 
ferent states, first a state of condemnation, and then in a state of justification 
and blessedness : and as God, in the work of the salvation of mankind, deals 
with them suitably to their intelligent rational nature ; so its seems reasonable, 
and agreeable to God s wisdom, that men who are saved should be in these two 
states sensibly ; first, that they should, sensibly to themselves, be in a state of 
condemnation, and so in a state of woful calamity and dreadful misery, and so 
afterwards in a state of deliverance and happiness ; and that they should be 
first sensible of their absolute extreme necessity, and afterwards of Christ s suf 
ficiency and God s mercy through him. 

And that it is God s manner of dealing with men, to " lead them into a 
wilderness, before he speaks comfortably to them," and so to order it, that they 
shall be brought into distress, and made to see their own helplessness and abso 
lute dependence on his power and grace, before he appears to work any great 
deliverance for them, is abundantly manifest by the Scripture. Then is God wont 
to " repent himself for his professing people, when their strength is gone, and 
there is none shut up or left," and when they are brought to see that their false 
gods cannot help them, and that the rock in whom they trusted is vain, Deut. 
xxxii. 36, 37. Before God delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt, they 
were prepared for it, by being made to " see that they were in an evil case," and 
" to cry unto God, because of their hard bondage," Exod. ii. 23, and v. 19. 
And before God wrought that great deliverance for them at the Red Sea, they 
were brought into great distress, the wilderness had shut them in, they could 
not turn to the right hand nor the left, and the Red Sea was before them, and 
the great Egyptian host behind, and they were brought to see that they could 
do nothing to "help themselves, and that if God did not help them, they should be 
immediately swallowed up ; and then God appeared, and turned their cries into 
songs. So before they were brought to their rest, and to enjoy the milk and 
honey of Canaan, God " led them through a great and terrible wilderness, 
that he might humble them and teach them what was in their heart, and so do 
them good in their latter end," Deut. viii. 2, 16. The woman that had the 
issue of blood twelve years, was not delivered, until she had first " spent all her 
living on earthly physicians, and could not be healed of any," and so was left 
helpless, having no more money to spend ; and then she came to the great Phy 
sician, without any money or price, and was healed by him, Luke viii. 43, 44. 
Before Christ would answer the request of the woman of Canaan, he first seem 
ed utterly to deny her, and humbled her, and brought her to own herself worthy 
to be called a dog ; and then he showed her mercy, and received her as a dear 
child, Matt. xv. 22, &c. The Apostle Paul, before a remarkable deliverance, 
was " pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that he despaired even 


of life j but had the sentence of death in himself, that he might not trust in him 
self, but in God that raiselh the dead," 2 Cor. i. 8, 9, 10. There was first a 
great tempest, and the ship was covered with the waves, and just ready to sink, 
and the disciples were brought to cry to Jesus, " Lord save us, we perish ;" and 
then the winds and seas were rebuked, and there was a great calm, Matt. viii. 
24, 25, 26. The leper, before he is cleansed, must have his mouth stopped, by 
a covering on his upper lip, and was to acknowledge his great misery and utter 
uncleanness, by rending his clothes, and crying, " Unclean, unclean," Lev. xiii. 
45. And backsliding Israel, before God heals them, are brought to " acknow 
ledge that they have sinned, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord," and 
to see that " they lie down in their shame, and that confusion covers them," and 
" that in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of 
mountains," and that God only can save them, Jer. iii. 23, 24, 25. Joseph, 
who was sold by his brethren, and therein was a type of Christ, brings his 
brethren into great perplexity and distress, and brings them to reflect on their 
sin, and to say, We are verily guilty j and at last to resign up themselves en 
tirely into his hands for bondmen j and then reveals himself to them, as their 
brother and their saviour. 

And if we consider those extraordinary manifestations which God made of 
himself to saints of old, we shall find that he commonly first manifested himself 
in a way which was terrible, and then by those things that were comfortable. 
So it was w r ith Abraham ; first, a horror of great darkness fell upon him, and 
then God revealed himself to him in sweet promises, Gen. xv. 12,13. So it 
was with Moses at Mount Sinai ; first, God appeared to him in all the terrors 
of his dreadful Majesty, so that Moses said, " 1 exceedingly fear and quake," 
and then he made all his goodness to pass before him, and proclaimed his name. 
" The Lord God gracious and merciful," &c. So it was with Elijah ; first, 
there is a stormy wind, and earthquake, and devouring fire, and then a still, small, 
sweet voice, 1 Kings xix. So it was with Daniel ; he first saw Christ s coun 
tenance as lightning, that terrified him, and caused him to faint away ; and then 
he is strengthened and refreshed with such comfortable words as these, " Dan- 
niel, a man greatly beloved," Dan. x. So it was with the apostle John, Rev. i. 
And there is an analogy observable in God s dispensations and deliverances 
which he works for his people, and the manifestations which he makes of him 
self to them, both ordinary and extraordinary. 

But there are many things in Scripture which do more directly show, tfyat 
this is God s ordinary manner in working salvation for the souls of men, and in 
the manifestations God makes of himself and of his mercy in Christ, in the or 
dinary works of his grace on the hearts of sinners. The servant that owed his 
prince ten thousand talents, is first held to his debt, and the king pronounces 
sentence of condemnation upon him, and commands him to be sold, and his wife 
and children, and payment to be made ; and thus he humbles him, and brings 
him to ow r n the whole of the debt to be just, and then forgives him all. The 
prodigal son spends all he has, and is brought to see himself in extreme circum 
stances, and to humble himself, and own his unworthiness, before he is relieved 
and feasted by his father, Luke xv. Old inveterate wounds must be searched to 
the bottom, in order to healing : and the Scripture compares sin, the wound of 
the soul, to this, and speaks of healing this wound without thus searching of it, 
as vain and deceitful, Jer. vii. 11. Christ, in the work of his grace on the hearts 
of men, is compared to rain on the new mown grass, grass that is cut down 
with a scythe, Psal. Ixxii. 6, representing his refreshing, comforting influences 
on the wounded spirit. Our first parents, after they had sinned, were first terri- 


fied with God s majesty and justice, and had their sin, with its aggravations, set 
before them by their Judge, before they where relieved by the promise of the 
seed of the woman. Christians are spoken of as those " that have fled for refuge, 
to lay hold on the hope set before them," Heb. vi. 18, which representation 
implies great fear and sense of danger, preceding. To the like purpose, Christ 
is called " a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, and as 
rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary 
land," Isa. xxxii. at the beginning. And it seems to be the natural import of 
the word gospel, glad tidings, that it is news of deliverance and salvation, after 
great fear and distress. There is also reason to suppose, that God deals with 
particular believers, as he dealt with his church, which he first made to hear his 
voice in the law, with terrible thunders and lightnings, and kept her under that 
schoolmaster to prepare her for Christ ; and then comforted her with the joyful 
sound of the gospel from Mount Zion. So likewise John the Baptist came to 
prepare the way for Christ, and prepare men s hearts for his reception, by show 
ing them their sins, and by bringing the self-righteous Jews off from their own 
righteousness, telling them that they were " a generation of vipers," and showing 
them their danger of " the wrath to come," telling them that " the axe was laid 
at the root of the trees," &c. 

And if it be indeed God s manner (as I think the foregoing considerations 
show that it undoubtedly is), before he gives men the comfort of a deliverance 
from their sin and misery, to give them a considerable sense of the greatness 
and dreadfulness of those evils, and their extreme wretchedness by reason of 
them ; surely it is not unreasonable to suppose, that persons, at least oftentimes, 
while under these views, should have great distresses and terrible apprehensions 
of mind ; especially if it be considered what these evils are that they have a 
view of; which are no other than great and manifold sins, against the infinite 
majesty of the great Jehovah, and the suffering of the fierceness of his wrath to 
all eternity. And the more so still, when we have many plain instances in 
Scripture of persons that have actually been brought into great distress, by 
such convictions, before they have received saving consolations : as the multitude 
at Jerusalem, who were " pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest 
of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do ?" And the apostle Paul, 
who trembled and was astonished, before he was comforted ; and the gaoler, 
when " he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down 
before Paul and Silas, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?" 

From these things it appears to be very unreasonable in professing Chris 
tians to make this an objection against the truth and spiritual nature of the 
comfortable and joyful affections which any have, that they follow such awful 
apprehensions and distresses as have been mentioned. 

And, on the other hand, it is no evidence that comforts and joys are right, 
because they succeed great terrors, and amazing fears of hell.* This seems to 
be what some persons lay a great weight upon ; esteeming great terrors an evi 
dence of the great work of the law wrought on the heart, well preparing the 
way for solid comfort ; not considering that terror and a conviction of conscience 
are different things. For though convictions of conscience dp often cause terror ; 
yet they do not consist in it ; and terrors do often arise from other causes. Con 
victions of conscience, through the influences of God s Spirit, consist in conviction 

* Mr. Shepard speaks of " men s being cast down as low as hell by sorrow and lying under chains, 
quaking in apprehension of terror to come, and then raised up to heaven in joy, not able to live ; and yet 
not rent from lust : and such arc objects of pity now, and are like to be the objects of terror at the great 
day" Parable of the Ten Virgins, Pare I. p. 125. 


of sinfulness of heart and practice, and of the dreadfulness of sin, as committed 
against a God of terrible majesty, infinite holiness and hatred of sin, and 
strict justice in punishing of it. But there are some persons that have frightful 
apprehensions of hell, a dreadful pit ready to swallow them up, and flames just 
ready to lay hold of them, and devils around them, ready to seize them ; who 
at the same time seem to have very little proper enlightenings of conscience 
really convincing them of their sinfulness of heart and life. The devil, if per 
mitted, can terrify men as well as the Spirit of God ; it is a work natural to him, 
and he has many ways of doing it, in a manner tending to no good. 

He may exceedingly affright persons, by impressing on them images and 
ideas of many external things, of a countenance frowning, a sword drawn, black 
clouds of vengeance, words of an awful doom pronounced,* hell gaping, devils 
coming, and the like, not to convince persons of things that are true, and 
revealed in the word of God, but to lead them to vain and groundless determi 
nations ; as that their day is past, that they are reprobated, that God is implaca 
ble, that he has come to a resolution immediately to cut them off, &c. 

And the terrors which some persons have, are very much owing to the par 
ticular constitution and temper they are of. Nothing is more manifest than that 
some persons are of such a temper and frame, that their imaginations are more 
strongly impressed with everything they are affected with, than others ; and the 
impression on the imagination reacts on the affection, and raises that still higher; 
and so affection and imagination act reciprocally, one on another, till their af 
fection is raised to a vast height, and the person is swallowed up, and loses all 
possession of himself, f 

And some speak of a great sight they have of their wickedness, who really, 
when the matter comes to be well examined into and thoroughly weighed, are 
found to have little or no convictions of conscience. They tell of a dreadful hard 
heart, and how their heart lies like a stone ; when truly they have none of those 
things in their minds or thoughts, wherein the hardness of men s heart does 
really consist. They tell of a dreadful load and sink of sin, a heap of black and 
loathsome filthiness within them ; when, if the matter be carefully inquired into, 
they have not in view any thing wherein the corruption of nature does truly 
consist, nor have they any thought of any particular thing wherein their hearts 
are sinfully defective, or fall short of what ought to be in them, or any exercises 
at all of corruption in them. And many think also they have great convictions 
of their actual sins, who truly have none. They tell how their sins are set in 
order before them, they see them stand encompassing them round in a row, with 
a dreadful, frightful appearance ; when really they have not so much as one of 
the sins they have been guilty of in the course of their lives, coming into view, 
that they are affected with the aggravations of. 

And if persons have had great terrors which really have been from the 
awakening and convincing influences of the Spirit of God, it doth not thence 
follow that their terrors must needs issue in true comfort. The unmortified cor 
ruption of the heart may quench the Spirit of God (after he has been striving) 

* " The way of the Spirit s working when it does convince men, is by enlightening natural conscience. 
Fie Spirit does not work by giving a testimony, but by assisting natural conscience to do its work. 
Natural conscience is the instrument in the hand of God to accuse, condemn, terrify, and to urge to duty. 
The Spirit of God leads men into the consideration of their danger, and makes them to be affected there 
with ; Prov. xx. 17, " The spirit of man is the candle of the Tsord, searching all the inward parts of the belly." 
Stoddard s Guide to Christ, page 44. 

t The famous Mr. Perkins distinguishes between " those sorrows that come through convictions of 
conecience, and melancholic passions arising only from mere imagination, strongly conceived in the 
brain ; which, he says, usually come i i a sudden, like lightning into a house." Vol I. of his works 
page 385. 

" VOL. III. 6 


by leading men to presumptuous, and self-exalting hopes and joys, as well as 
otherwise. It is not every woman who is really in travail, that brings forth a 
real child ; but it may be a monstrous production, without any thing of the 
form or properties of human nature belonging to it. Pharaoh s chief baker, 
after he had lain in the dungeon with Joseph, had a vision that raised his hopes, 
and he was lifted out of the dungeon, as well as the chief butler ; but it was to 
be hanged. 

But if comforts and joys do not only come after great terrors and awaken- 
ings, but there be an appearance of such preparatory convictions and humilia 
tions, and brought about very distinctly, by such steps, and in such a method, 
as has frequently been observable in true converts ; this is no certain sign that 
the light and comforts which follow are true and saving. And for these follow 
ing reasons : 

First, As the devil can counterfeit all the saving operations and graces of 
the Spirit of God, so he can counterfeit those operations that are preparatory to 
grace. If Satan can counterfeit those effects of God s Spirit, which are special, 
divine and sanctifying, so that there shall be a very great resemblance, in all 
that can be observed by others ; much more easily may he imitate those works 
of God s Spirit which are common, and which men, while they are yet his own 
children, are the subjects of. These works are in no wise so much above him 
as the other. There are no works of God that are so high and divine, and 
above the powers of nature, and out of reach of the power of all creatures, as 
those works of his Spirit, whereby he forms the creature in his own image, and 
makes it to be a partaker of the divine nature. But if the devil can be the 
author of such resemblances of these as have been spoken of, without doubt he 
may of those that are of an infinitely inferior kind. And it is abundantly 
evident in fact, that there are false humiliations and false submissions, as well 
as false comforts.* How far was Saul brought, though a very wicked man, and 
of a haughty spirit, when he (though a great king) was brought, in conviction 
of his sin, as it were to fall down, all in tears, weeping aloud, before David his 
own subject (and one that he had for a long time mortally hated, and openly 
treated as an enemy), and condemn himself before him, crying out, " Thou art 
more righteous than I : for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have 
rewarded thee evil !" And at another time, " I have sinned, I have played tbe 
fool, I have erred exceedingly," 1 Sam. xxiv. 16, 17, and chap. xxvi. 21. And 
yet Saul seems then to have had very little of the influences of the Spirit of God, 
it being after God s Spirit had departed from him, and given him up, and an evil 
spirit from the Lord troubled him. And if this proud monarch, in a pang of 
affection, was brought to humble himself so low before a subject that he hated, 
and still continued an enemy to, there doubtless may be appearances of great 
conviction and humiliation in men, before God, while they yet remain enemies 
to him, and though they finally continue so. There is oftentimes in men who 
are terrified through fears of hell, a great appearance of their being brought 
off from their own righteousness, when they are not brought off from it in all 
ways, although they are in many ways that are more plain and visible. They 
have only exchanged some ways of trusting in their own righteousness, for 
others th<\t are more secret and subtle. Oftentimes a great degree of discourage^ 

* The venerable Mr. Stoddard observes, " A man may say, that now he can justify God however he 
aeals with him, and not be brought off from his own righteousness ; and that some men do justify God , 
from a partial conviction of the righteousness of their condemnation ; conscience takes notice of their 
infulness, and tells them that they may be righteously damned ; as Pharaoh, who justified God, Exod. 
ix. 27. And they give some kind of consent to it, but many times it does not continue they have only 
a pang upon them, that usually dies away after a little time. Guide to Christ, p. 71. 


ment, as to many things they used to depend upon, is taken for humiliation : 
and that is called a submission to God, which is no absolute submission, but 
has some secret bargain in it, that it is hard to discover. 

Secondly, If the operations and effects of the Spirit of God, in the convic 
tions, and comforts of true converts, may be sophisticated, then the order of them 
may be imitated. If Satan can imitate the things themselves, he may easily put 
them one after another, in such a certain order. If the devil can make A, B, 
and C, it is as easy for him to put A first, and B next, and C next, as to range 
them in a contrary order. The nature of divine things is harder for the devil 
to imitate, than their order. He cannot exactly imitate divine operations in their 
nature, though his counterfeits may be very much like them in external appear 
ance ; but he can exactly imitate their order. When counterfeits are made, 
there is no divine power needful in order to the placing one of them first, and 
another last. And therefore no order or method of operations and experiences 
is any certain sign of their divinity. That only is to be trusted to, as a certain 
evidence of grace, which Satan cannot do, and which it is impossible should be 
brought to pass by any power short of divine. 

Thirdly, We have no certain rule rule to determine how far God s own 
Spirit may go in those operations and convictions which in themselves are not 
spiritual and saving, and yet the person that is the subject of them never be con 
verted, but fall short of salvation at last. There is no necessary connection in 
the nature of things, between any thing that a natural man may experience 
while in a state of nature, and the saving grace of God s Spirit. And if there 
be no connection in the nature of things, then there can be no known and cer 
tain connection at all, unless it be by divine revelation. But there is no revealed 
certain connection between a state of salvation, and any thing that a natural 
man can be the subject of, before he believes in Christ. God has revealed no 
certain connection between salvation, and any qualifications in men, but only 
grace and its fruits. And therefore we do not find any legal convictions, or com 
forts, following these legal convictions, in any certain method or order, ever 
once mentioned in the Scripture, as certain signs of grace, or things peculiar to 
the saints ; although we do find gracious operations and effects themselves, so 
mentioned, thousands of times. Which should be enough with Christians who 
are willing to have the word of God, rather than their own philosophy, and 
experiences, and conjectures, as their sufficient and sure guide in things of this 

Fourthly, Experience does greatly confirm, that persons seeming to have 
convictions and comforts following one another in such a method and order, as 
is frequently observable in true converts, is no certain sign of grace.* I appeal 
to all those ministers in this land, who have had much occasion of dealing with 
souls in the late extraordinary season, whether there have not been many who 
do not prove well, that have given a fair account of their experiences, and have 
seemed to be converted according to rule, i. e., with convictions and affections, 
succeeding distinctly and exactly, in that order and method, which has been 
ordinarily insisted on, as the order of the operations of the Spirit of God in 

And as a seeming to have this distinctness as to steps and method, is no 

* Mr. Stoddard, who had much experience of things of this nature, long ago observed, that converted 
and unconverted men cannot be certainly distinguished by the account they give of their experience ; the 
same relation of experiences being comimn to both. And that many persons have given a fan account 
of a work of conversion, that have earned veil in the eye of the world for several years, but have not 
proved well at last. Appeal to the Learned* .\ 75, 76. 


certain sign that a person is converted ; so a being without it, is no evidence 
that a person is not converted. For though it might be made evident to a demon 
stration, on Scripture principles, that a sinner cannot be brought heartily to 
receive Christ as his Saviour, who is not convinced of his sin and misery, and 
of his own emptiness and helplessness, and his just desert of eternal condemna 
tion ; and that therefore such convictions must be some way implied in what is 
wrought in his soul ; yet nothing proves it to be necessary, that all those things 
which are implied or presupposed in an act of faith in Christ, must be plainly 
and distinctly wrought in the soul, in so many successive and separate works of 
the Spirit, that shall be each one plain and manifest, in all who are truly con 
verted. On the contrary (as Mr. Shepard observes), sometimes the change 
made in a saint, at first work, is like a confused chaos ; so that the saints know 
not what to make of it. The manner of the Spirit s proceeding in them that 
are born of the Spirit, is very often exceeding mysterious and unsearchable : 
we, as it were, hear the sound of it, the effect of it is discernible ; but no man can 
tell whence it came, or whither it went. And it is oftentimes as difficult to 
know the way of the Spirit in the new birth, as in the first birth ; Eccl. xi. 5, 
" Thou knowest not what is the way of the Spirit, or how the bones do grow 
in the womb of her that is with child ; even so thou knowest not the works of 
God, that worketh all." The ingenerating of a principle of grace in the soul, 
seems in Scripture to be compared to the conceiving of Christ in the womb, 
Gal. iv. 19. And therefore the Church is called Christ s mother, Cant. iii. 11. 
And so is every particular believer, Matt. xii. 49, 50. And the conception of Christ 
in the womb of the blessed virgin, by the power of the Holy Ghost, seems to be a 
designed resemblance of the conception of Christ in the soul of a believer, by the 
power of the same Holy Ghost. And we know not what is the way of the Spirit, 
nor how the bones do grow, either in the womb, or heart that conceives this holy 
child. The new creature may use that language in Psal. cxxxix. 14, 15, " I 
am fearfully and wonderfully made ; marvellous are thy works, and that my 
soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was 
made in secret." Concerning the generation of Christ, both in his person, and 
also in the hearts of his people, it may be said, as in Isa. liii. 8, " Who can de 
clare his generation ?" We know not the works of God, that worketh all. " It 
is the glory of God to conceal a thing" (Prov. xxv. 2), and to have " his path 
as it were in the mighty waters, that his footsteps may not be known ;" and 
especially in the works of his Spirit on the hearts of men, which are the high 
est and chief of his works. And therefore it is said, Isa. xl. 13, " Who hath 
directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him ?" It is 
to be feared that some have gone too far towards directing the Spirit of the 
Lord, and marking out his footsteps for him, and limiting him to certain steps 
and methods. Experience plainly shows, that God s Spirit is unsearchable and 
untraceable, in some of the best of Christians, in the method of his operations, 
in their conversion. Nor does the Spirit of God proceed discernibly in the 
steps of a particular established scheme, one half so often as is imagined. A 
scheme of what is necessary, and according to a rule already received and es 
tablished by common opinion, has a vast (though to many a very insensible) 
influence in forming persons notions of the steps and method of their own ex 
periences. I know very well what their way is ; for I have had much oppor 
tunity to observe it. Very often, at first, their experiences appear like a con 
fused chaos, as Mr. Shepard expresses it : but then those passages of their ex 
perience are picked out, that have most of the appearance of such particular 
steps that are insisted on ; and these are dwelt upon in the thoughts, and these 


are told of from time to time, in the relation they give : these parts grow 
brighter and brighter in their view ; and others, being neglected, grow more 
and more obscure : and what they have experienced is insensibly strained to 
bring all to an exact conformity to the scheme that is established. And it be 
comes natural for ministers, who have to deal with them, and direct them that 
insist upon distinctness and clearness of method, to do so too. But yet 
there has been so much to be seen of the operations of the Spirit of God, of 
late, that they who have had much to do with souls, and are not blinded 
with a seven- fold vail of prejudice, must know that the Spirit is so exceeding 
various in the manner of his operating, that in many cases it is impossible to 
trace him, or find out his way. 

What we have principally to do with, in our inquiries into our own state, or 
directions we give to others, is the nature of the effect that God has brought to 
pass in the soul. As to the steps which the Spirit of God took to bring that 
effect to pass, we may leave them to him. We are often in Scripture express 
ly directed to try ourselves by the nature of the fruits of the Spirit ; but no 
where by the Spirit s method of producing them.* Many do greatly err in 
their notions of a clear work of conversion ; calling that a clear work, where 
the successive steps of influence, and method of experience are clear : whereas 
that indeed is the clearest work (not where the order of doing is clearest, but) 
where the spiritual and divine nature of the w r ork done, and effect wrought, is 
most clear. 

IX. It is no certain sign that the religious affections which persons have 
are such as have in them the nature of true religion, or that they have not, that 
they dispose persons to spend much time in religion, and to be zealously en 
gaged in the external duties of worship. 

This has, very unreasonably of late, been looked upon as an argument 
against the religious affections which some have had, that they spend so much 
time in reading, praying, singing, hearing sermons, and the like. It is plain 
from the Scripture, that it is the tendency of true grace to cause persons to 
delight in such religious exercises. True grace had this effect on Anna the pro 
phetess : Luke ii. 27, " She departed not from the temple, but served God with 
fastings and prayers night and day." And grace had this effect upon the primi 
tive Christians in Jerusalem : Acts ii. 46, 47, " And they continuing daily with 
one accord in the temple, anil breaking bread from house to house, did eat their 
meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God." Grace made Daniel 
delight in the duty of prayer, and solemnly to attend it three times a day, as it 
also did David : Psal. Iv. 17, " Evening, morning, and at noon will I pray." 
Grace makes the saints delight in singing praises to God: Psal. cxxxv. 3, 
" Sing praises unto his name, for it is pleasant." And cxlvii. 1, " Praise ye the 
Lord ; for it is good to sing praises unto our God ; for it is pleasant, and praise 
is comely." It also causes them to delight to hear the word of God preached : 
it makes the gospel a joyful sound to them, Psal. Ixxxix. 15, and makes the 
feet of those who publish these good tidings to be beautiful : Isa. Hi. 7, " How 

* Mr. Shepard, speaking of the soul s closing with Christ, says, " As a child cannot tell how his soul 
comes into it, nor it may be when ; but afterwards it sees and feels that life ; so that he were as bad as A 
beast, that should deny an immortal soul ; so here." Parableofthe Ten Virgins, Part II. p. 171. 

" If the man do not know the time of his conversion, or first closing with Christ ; the minister may 
not draw any peremptory conclusion from thence, that he is not godly." StoddarcVs Guide to Christ, p. 83. 

" Do not think there is no compunction, or sense of sin, wrought in the soul, because you cannot so 
clearly discern and feel it ; nor the time of the working, and first beginning of it. 1 have known many 
that have come with their complaints, that they were never humbled .they never felt it so ; yet there it hath 
been, and many times they have seen it, by the other spectacles, and blessed God for it." Shepard s 
Sound Believer, page 38. The late impression in Boston. 


beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings !" 
&c. It makes them love God s: public worship : Psal. xxvi. 8, " Lord, I have 
loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth." 
And xxvii. 4, " One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that 
I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the 
beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple." Psal. Ixxxiv. 1, 2, &c., 
" How amiable are thy tabernacles, Lord of hosts ! My soul longeth, yea, 
even fainteth for the courts of the Lord. Yea, the sparrow hath found a house, 
and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine 
altars, Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy 
house : they will be still praising thee. Blessed is the man in whose heart 
are the ways of them, who passing through the valley of Baca go from 
strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God." Ver. 
10, " A day in thy courts is better than a thousand." 

This is the nature of true grace. But yet, on the other hand, persons being 
disposed to abound and to be zealously engaged in the external exercises of re 
ligion, and to spend much time in them, is no sure evidence of grace ; because 
such a disposition is found in many that have no grace. So it was with the Is 
raelites of old, whose services were abominable to God ; they attended the 
" new moons, and Sabbaths, and calling of assemblies, and spread forth their 
hands, and made many prayers," Isa. i. 12 15. So it was with the Pharisees; 
they " made long prayers, and fasted twice a week." False religion may caue 
persons to be loud and earnest in prayer : Isa. Iviii. 4, " Ye shall not fast a s ye 
do this day, to cause your voice to be heard on high." That religion which is 
not spiritual and saving, may cause men to delight in religious duties and ordi 
nances : Isa. Iviii. 2, " Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, 
as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God : 
they ask of me the ordinances of justice : they take delight in approaching to 
God." It may cause them to take delight in hearing the word of God preached, 
as it was with Ezekiel s hearers: Ezek. xxxiii. 31, 32, " And they come unto 
thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear 
thy words, but they will not do them : for with their rnouth they show much 
love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And lo, thou art unto them 
as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on 
an instrument : for they hear thy words, but they do them not." So it was 
with Herod ; he heard John the Baptist gladly, Mark vi. 20. So it was with 
others of his hearers, " for a season they rejoiced in his light," John v. 35. So 
the stony ground hearers heard the word with joy. 

Experience shows, that persons, from false religion, may be inclined to be 
exceedrng abundant in the external exercises of religion ; yea, to ojive themselves 
up to them, and -devote almost their whole time to them. Formerly a sort 
of people were very numerous in the Rornish church, called recluses, who for 
sook the world, and utterly abandoned the society of mankind, and shut them 
selves up close in a narrow cell, with a vow never to stir out of it, nor to see 
the face of any of mankind any more (unless that they might be visited in cast 
of sickness), to spend all their days in the exercise of devotion and converse witl 
God. There were also in old time, great multitudes called Hermits and Ancho 
rites, that left the world to spend all their days in lonesome deserts, to give them 
selves up to religious contemplations and exercises of devotion ; some sorts of 
them having no dwellings, but the caves and vaults of the mountains, and no 
food, but the spontaneous productions of the earth. I once lived, for many 
months, next door to a Jew (the houses adjoining one to another), and had 


much opportunity daily to observe him ; who appeared to me the devoutest 
person that T ever saw in my life ; great part of his time being spent in acts of 
devotion, at his eastern window, which opened next to mine, seeming to be most 
earnestly engaged, not only in the daytime, but sometimes whole nights. 

X. Nothing can be certainly known of the nature of religious affections by 
this, that they much dispose persons with their mouths to praise and glorify God. 
This indeed is implied in what has been just now observed, of abounding and 
spending much time in the external exercises of religion, and was also hinted 
before ; but because many seem to look upon it as a bright evidence of gra 
cious affection, when persons appear greatly disposed to praise and magnify God, 
to have their mouths full of his praises, and affectionately to becalling on others 
to praise and extol him, I thought it deserved a more particular consideration. 

No Christian will make it an argument against a person, that he seems to 
have such a disposition. Nor can it reasonably be looked upon as an evidence 
for a person, if those things that have been already observed and proved, be 
duly considered, viz., that persons, without grace, may have high affections 
towards God and Christ, and that their affections, being strong, may fill their 
mouths, and incline them to speak much, and very earnestly, about the things 
they are affected with, and that there may be counterfeits of all kinds of gra 
cious affection. But it will appear more evidently and directly, that this is no 
certain sign of grace, if we consider what instances the Scripture gives us of it 
in those that were graceless. We often have an account of this, in the multi 
tude that were present when Christ preached and wrought miracles ; Mark ii. 
12, " And immediately he arose, took up his bed, and went forth before them 
all, insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God. saying, We never 
saw it on this fashion." So Matt. ix. 8, and Luke v. 26. Also Matt. xv. 31, 
" Insomuch that the multitude wondered when they saw the dumb to speak, the 
maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see : and they glorified 
the God of Israel." So we are told, that on occasion of Christ s raising the 
son of the widow of Nain, Luke vii. 16, "There came a fear on all : and they 
glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us ; and, That 
God hath visited his people." So we read of their glorifying Christ, or speak 
ing exceeding highly of him : Luke iv. 15, " And he taught in their syna 
gogues, being glorified of all." And how did they praise him, with loud voices, 
crying, " Hosanna to the Son of David ; hosanna in the highest ; blessed is he 
that cometh in the name of the Lord," a little before he was crucified ! And 
after Christ s ascension, when the apostles had healed the impotent man, we 
are told, that all men glorified God for that which was done, Acts iv. 21. When 
the Gentiles in Antioch of Pisidia, heard from Paul and Barnabas, that God 
would reject the Jews, and take the Gentiles to be his people in their room, they 
were affected with the goodness of God to the Gentiles, " and glorified the 
word of the Lord :" but all that did so were not true believers ; but only a certain 
elect number of them ; as is intimated in the account we have of it, Acts xiii. 
48 : " And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word 
of the Lord : and as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed." So of 
old the children of Israel at the Red Sea, " sang God s praise ; but soon forgat 
his works." And the Jews in Ezekiel s time, " with their mouth showed much 
love, while their heart went after their covetousness." And it is foretold of 
false professors, and real enemies of religion, that they should show a forward 
ness to glorify God : Isa. Ixvi. 5, " Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble 
at his word. Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for . my name s 
sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified." 


It is no certain sign that a person is graciously affected, if, in the midst of 
his hopes and comforts, he is greatly affected with God s unmerited mercy to 
him that is so unworthy, and seems greatly to extol and magnify free grace. 
Those that yet remain with unmortined pride and enmity against God, may, 
when they imagine that they have received extraordinary kindness from God, 
cry out of their unworthiness, and magnify God s undeserved goodness to them, 
from no other conviction of their ill deservings, and from no higher principle 
than Saul had, who, while he yet remained with unsubdued pride and enmity 
against David, was brought, though a king, to acknowledge his unworthiness, 
and cry out, " I have played the fool, I have erred exceedingly," and with great 
affection and admiration, to magnify and extol David s unmerited and unexam 
pled kindness to him, 1 Sam. xxv. 16 19, and xxvi. 21, and from no higher 
principle than that from whence Nebuchadnezzar was affected with God s dis 
pensations, that he saw and was the subject of, and praises, extols and honors 
the King of heaven ; and both he, and Darius, in their high affections, call upon 
all nations to praise God, Dan. iii. 28, 29, 30, and iv. 1, 2, 3, 34, 35, 37, and 
vi. 25, 26, 27. 

XL It is no sign that affections are right, or that they are wrong, that they 
make persons that have them exceeding confident that what they experience is 
divine, and that they are in a good estate. 

It is an argument with some, against persons, that they are deluded if they 
pretend to be assured of their good estate, and to be carried beyond all doubting 
of the favor of God ; supposing that there is no such thing to be expected in 
the church of God, as a full and absolute assurance of hope ; unless it be in 
some very extraordinary circumstances ; as in the case of martyrdom ; contrary 
to the doctrine of Protestants, which has been maintained by their most 
celebrated writers against the Papists ; and contrary to the plainest Scripture 
evidence. It is manifest, that it was a common thing for the saints that we 
have a history or particular account of in Scripture, to be assured. God, in the 
plainest and most positive mariner, revealed and testified his special favor to 
Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Daniel, and others. Job often speaks ol 
his sincerity and uprightness with the greatest imaginable confidence and assur 
ance, often calling God to witness to it ; and says plainly, " I know that my Re 
deemer liveth, and that I shall see him for myself, and not another," Job xix. 
25, &c. David, throughout the bock of Psalms, almost everywhere speaks 
without any hesitancy, and in the most positive manner, of God as his God : 
glorying in him as his portion and heritage, his rock and confidence, his shield, 
salvation, and high tower, and the like. Hezekiah appeals to God, as one that 
knew that he had walked before him in truth, and with a perfect heart, 2 
Kings xx. 3. Jesus Christ, in his dying discourse with his eleven disciples, in 
the 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters of John (which was as it were Christ s last 
will and testament to his disciples, and to his whole church), often declares his 
special and everlasting love to them in the plainest and most positive terms ; 
and promises them a future participation with him in his glory, in the most ab 
solute manner ; and tells them at the same time that he does so, to the end that 
their joy might be full : John xv. 11, " These things have I spoken unto you, 
that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." See also 
at the conclusion of his whole discourse, chap. xvi. 33 : " These things have f 
spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have 
tribulation : but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Christ was 
not afraid of speaking too plainly and positively to them ; he did not desire to 
hold them in the least suspense. And he concluded that last discourse of his 


with a prayer in their presence, wherein he speaks positively to his Father of those 
eleven disciples, as having all of them savingly known him, and believed in 
him, and received and kept his word ; arid that they were not of the world ; 
and that for their sakes he sanctified himself ; and that his will was, that they 
should be with him in his glory ; and tells his Father, that he spake those things 
in his prayer, to the end, that his joy might be fulfilled in them, verse 13. By 
these things it is evident, that it is agreeable to Christ s designs, and the con 
trived ordering and disposition Christ makes of things in his church, that there 
should be sufficient and abundant provision made, that his saints might have full 
assurance of their future glory. 

The Apostle Paul, through all his epistles speaks in an assured strain ; ever 
speaking positively of his special relation to Christ, his Lord, and Master, and 
Redeemer, and his interest in, and expectation of the future reward. It would 
be endless to take notice of all places that might be enumerated ; I shall men 
tion but three or four : Gal. ii. 20, " Christ liveth in me ; and the life which I 
now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and 
gave himself for me ;" Phil. i. 21, " For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain ;" 
2 Tim. i. 12, " I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is 
able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day ;" 2 Tim. 
iv. 7, 8, " I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept 
the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which 
the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me at that day." 

And the nature of the covenant of grace, and God s declared ends in the 
appointment and constitution of things in that covenant, do plainly show it to 
be God s design to make ample provision for the saints having an assured hope 
of eternal life, while living here upon earth. For so are all things ordered and 
contrived in that covenant, that every thing might be made sure on God s part. 
" The covenant is ordered in all things and sure :" the promises are most full, 
and very often repeated, and various ways exhibited ; and there are many wit 
nesses, and many seals ; and God has confirmed his promises with an oath. 
And God s declared design in all this, is, that the heirs of the promises might 
have an undoubting hope and full joy, in an assurance of their future glory. 
Heb. vi. 17, 18, " Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the 
heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath : that 
by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might 
have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set 
before us." But all this would be in vain, to any such purpose, as the saints 
strong consolation, and hope of their obtaining future glory, if their interest in 
those sure promises in ordinary cases was not ascertain able. For God s pro 
mises and oaths, let them be as sure as they will, cannot give strong hope and 
comfort to any particular person, any further than he can know that those pro 
mises are made to him. And in vain is provision made in Jesus Christ, that 
believers might be perfect as pertaining to the conscience, as is signified, Heb. 
ix. 9, if assurance of freedom from the guilt of sin is not attainable. 

It further appears that assurance is not only attainable in some very extra 
ordinary cases, but that all Christians are directed to give all diligence to make 
their calling and election sure, and are told how they may do it, 2 Pet. i. 5 8. 
And it is spoken of as a thing very unbecoming Christians, and an argument 
of something very blamable in them, not to know whether Christ be in them or 
no : 2 Cor. xiii. 5, " Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in 
you, except ye be reprobates ?" And it is implied that it is an argument of a 
very blamable negligence in Christians, if they practise Christianity after such 

VOL. Ill 7 


a manner as to remain uncertain of the reward, in 1 Cor. ix. 26 : "I therefore 
so run, as not uncertainly.". And to add no more, it is manifest, that Christians 
knowing their interest in the saving benefits of Christianity is a thing ordinarily 
attainable, because the apostle tells us by what means Christians (and not only 
the apostles and martyrs) were wont to know this : 1 Cor. ii. 12, " Now we 
have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God ; that 
we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." And 1 John 
ii. 3, " And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his command 
ments." And verse 5, " Hereby know we that we are in him." Chap. iii. 14, 
" We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the 
brethren ;" ver. 19, " Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall as 
sure our hearts before him ;" ver. 24, " Hereby we know that he abideth in us, 
by the Spirit which he hath given us." So chap. iv. 13, and chap. v. 2, and 
verse 19. 

Therefore it must needs be very unreasonable to determine, that persons are 
hypocrites, and their affections wrong, because they seem to be out of doubt of 
their own salvation, and the affections they are the subjects of seem to banish 
all fears of hell. 

On the other hand, it is no sufficient reason to determine that men are saints, 
and their affections gracious, because the affections they have are attended with 
an exceeding confidence that their state is good, and their affections divine.* 
Nothing can be certainly argued from their confidence, how great and strong 
soever it seems to be. If we see a man that boldly calls God his Father, and 
commonly speaks in the most bold, familiar, and appropriating language in 
prayer, (i My Father, my dear Redeemer, my sweet Saviour, my Beloved," and 
the like ; and it is a common thing for him to use the most confident expressions 
before men, about the goodness of his state ; such as, " I know certainly that 
God is my Father ; I know so surely as there is a God in heaven, that he is my 
God ; I know I shall go to heaven, as well as if I were there ; I know that God 
is now manifesting himself to my soul, and is now smiling upon me ;" and seems 
to have done for ever with any inquiry or examination into his state, as a thing 
sufficiently known, and out of doubt, and to contemn all that so much as inti 
mate or suggest that there is some reason to doubt or fear whether all is right ; 
such things are no signs at all that it is indeed so as he is confident it is.f Such 
an overbearing, high-handed, and violent sort of confidence as this, so affecting 
to declare itself with a most glaring show in the sight of men, which is to be 
seen in many, has not the countenance of a true Christian assurance : it savors 

* " O professor, look carefully to your foundation : Be not high minded, but fear. You have, it 
may be, done and suffered many things in and for religion ; you have excellent gifts and sweet comforts ; 
a warm zeal for God, and high confidence of your integrity : all this may be right, for aught that I, or (it 
may be) you know : but yet, it is possible it maj be false. You have sometimes judged yourselves, and 
pronounced yourselves upright ; but remember your final sentence is not yet pronounced by your Judge. 
And what if God weigh you over again, in his more equal balance, and should say, Mene Tekel, Thou 
art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting ? What a confounded man wilt thou be, under such 
a sentence ! QUCK splendent in conspectu hominis, sordent in conspectu judicis ; things that are highly 
esteemed of men, are an abomination in the sight of God : He seeth not as man seeth. Thy heart may 
be false, and thou not know it : yea, it may be false, and thou strongly confident of its integrity." Fla- 
veFs Totichstone of Sincerity, chap. ii. sect. 5. 

" Some hypocrites are a great deal more confident than many saints " StoddarcTs Discourse on th* 
Way to know Sincerity and Hypocrisy, p. 128. 

f "Doth the work of faith, in some believers, bear upon its top branches the full ripe fruits of a 
blessed assurance ? Lo, what strong confidence, and high built persuasions, of an interest in God, have 
sometimes been found in unsanctified ones ! Yea, so strong may this false assurance be, that they dare 
boldly venture to go to the judgment seat of God, and there defend it. Doth the Spirit of God fill the 
heart of the assured believer with joy unspeakable, and full of glory, giving him, through faith, a preliba- 
tion or foretaste of heaven itself, in th,>se first fruits of it ? How near to this comes what the Apostle 
supposes may be found in apostates !" Navel s Husbandry Spiritualized, chap. xii. 


more of the spirit of the Pharisees, who never doubted but that they were 
saints, and the most eminent of saints, and were bold to go to God, and come 
up near to him, and lift up their eyes, and thank him for the great distinction 
he had made between them and other men ; and when Christ intimated that they 
were blind and graceless, despised the suggestion : John ix. 40, " And some of 
the Pharisees which were with him, heard these words, and said unto him, Are 
we blind also ?" If they had more of the spirit of the publican, with their con 
fidence, who, in a sense of his exceeding unworthiness, stood afar off, and durst 
not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote on his breast, and cried out 
of himself as a sinner, their confidence would have more of the aspect of the 
confidence of one that humbly trusts and hopes in Christ, and has no confidence 
in himself. 

If we do but consider what the hearts of natural men are, what principles 
they are under the dominion of, what blindness and deceit, what self-flattery, 
self-exaltation, and self-confidence reign there, we need not at all wonder that 
their high opinion of themselves, and confidence of their happy circumstances, 
be as high and strong as mountains, and as violent as a tempest, when once 
conscience is blinded, and convictions killed, with false high affections, and 
those forementioned principles let loose, fed up and prompted by false joys and 
comforts, excited by some pleasing imaginations, impressed by Satan, trans 
forming himself into an angel of light. 

When once a hypocrite is thus established in a false hope, he has not those 
things to cause him to call his hope in question, that oftentimes are the occasion 
of the doubting of true saints ; as, first, he has not that cautious spirit, that great 
sense of the vast importance of a sure foundation, and that dread of being 
deceived. The comforts of the true saints increase awakening and caution, and 
a lively sense how great a thing it is to appear before an infinitely holy, just 
and omniscient Judge. But false comforts put an end to these things and 
dreadfully stupify the mind. Secondly, The hypocrite has not the knowledge 
of his own blindness, and the deceitfulness of his own heart, and that mean 
opinion of his own understanding, that the true saint has. Those that are delud 
ed with false discoveries and affections, are evermore highly conceited of their 
light and understanding. Thirdly, The devil does not assault the hope of the 
hypocrite, as he does the hope of a true saint. The devil is a great enemy to a 
true Christian hope, not only because it tends greatly to the comfort of him that 
hath it, but also because it is a thing of a holy, heavenly nature, greatly tending 
to promote and cherish grace in the heart, and a great incentive to strictness 
and diligence in the Christian life. But he is no enemy to the hope of a hypo 
crite, which above all things establishes his interest in him that has it. A hypo 
crite may retain his hope without opposition, as long as he lives, the devil never 
disturbing it, nor attempting to disturb it. But there is perhaps no true Chris 
tian but what has his hope assaulted by him. Satan assaulted Christ himself 
upon this, whether he were the Son of God or no : and the servant is not above 
his Master, nor the disciple above his Lord ; it is enough for the disciple, that 
is most privileged in this world, to be as his Master. Fourthly, He who has a 
false hope, has not that sight of his own corruptions, which the saint has. A 
true Christian has ten times so much to do with his heart and its corruptions, as 
& hypocrite : and the sins of his heart and practice, appear to him in their 
blackness ; they look dreadful ; and it often appears a very mysterious thing, 
that any grace can be consistent with such corruption, or should be in such a 
heart. But a false hope hides corruption, covers it all over, and the hypocrite 
looks clean and bright in his own eyes. 


There are two sorts of hypocrites : one that are deceived with their outward 
morality and external religion ; many of whom are professed Arminians, in the 
doctrine of justification : and the other, are those that are deceived with false 
discoveries and elevations; who often cry down works, and men s own right 
eousness, and talk much of free grace ; but at the same time make a righteous 
ness of their discoveries and of their humiliation, and exalt themselves to heaven 
with them. These two kinds of hypocrites, Mr. Shepard, in his exposition of 
the Parable of the Ten Virgins, distinguishes by the name of legal and evangeli 
cal hypocrites ; and often speaks of the latter as the worst. And it is evident 
that the latter are commonly by far the most confident in their hope, and with 
the most difficulty brought off from it : I have scarcely known the instance of 
such a one, in my life, that has been undeceived. The chief grounds of the 
confidence of many of them, are the very same kind of impulses and supposed 
revelations (sometimes w T ith texts of Scripture, and sometimes without) that so 
many of late have had concerning i uture events ; calling these impulses about their 
good estate, the witness of the Spirit; entirely misunderstanding the nature of 
the witness of the Spirit, as I shall show hereafter. Those that have had visions 
and impulses about other things, it has generally been to reveal such things as 
they are desirous and fond of: and no wonder that persons who give heed to 
such things, have the same sort of visions or impressions about their own eternal 
salvation, to reveal to them that their sins are forgiven them, that their names are 
written in the book of life, that they are in high favor with God, &c., and espe 
cially when they earnestly seek, expect, and wait for evidence of their election 
and salvation this way, as the surest and most glorious evidence of it. Neither 
is it any wonder, that when they have such a supposed revelation of their good 
estate, it raises in them the highest degree of confidence of it. It is found by 
abundant experience, that those who are led away by impulses and imagined 
revelations, are extremely confident : they suppose that the great Jehovah has 
declared these and those things to them ; and having his immediate testimony, 
a strong confidence is the highest virtue. Hence they are bold to say, 1 know 
this or that I know certainly I am as sure as that I have a being, and the 
like ; and they despise all argument and inquiry in the case. And above all 
things else, it is easy to be accounted for, that impressions and impulses about 
that which is so pleasing, so suiting their self-love and pride, as their being the 
dear children of God, distinguished from most in the world in his favor, should 
make them strongly confident; especially when with their impulses and revela 
tions they have high affections, which they take to be the most eminent exer 
cises of grace. I have known of several persons, that have had a fond desire 
of something of a temporal nature, through a violent passion that has possessed 
them ; and they have been earnestly pursuing the thing they have desired should 
come to pass, and have met with great difficulty and many discouragements in 
it, but at last have had an impression, or supposed revelation, that they should 
obtain what they sought ; and they have looked upon it as a sure promise 
from the Most High, which has made them most ridiculously confident, against 
all manner of reason to convince them to the contrary, and all events working 
against them. And there is nothing hinders, but that persons who are seeking 
their salvation, may be deceived by the like delusive impressions, and be made 
confident of that, the same way. 

The confidence of many of this sort of hypocrites, that Mr. Shepard calls 
evangelical hypocrites, is like the confidence of some mad men, who think they 
are kings ; they will maintain it against all manner of reason and evidence. 
And in one sense, it is much more immovable than a truly gracious assurance; 


a true assurance is not upheld, but by the soul s being kept in a holy frame, and 
grace maintained in lively exercise. If the actings of grace do much decay in 
the Christian, and he falls into a lifeless frame, he loses his assurance : but this 
kind of confidence of hypocrites will not be shaken by sin ; they (at least some 
of them) will maintain their boldness in their hope, in the most corrupt frames 
and wicked ways ; which is a sure evidence of their delusion.* 

And here I cannot but observe, that there are certain doctrines often preached 
to the people, which need to be delivered with more caution and explanation than 
they frequently are ; for, as they are by many understood, they tend greatly to 
establish this delusion and false confidence of hypocrites. The doctrines 1 speak 
of are those of " Christians living by faith, not by sight j their giving glory to 
God, by trusting him in the dark ; living upon Christ, and not upon experiences ; 
not making their good frames the foundation of their faith :" which are excellent 
and important doctrines indeed, rightly understood, but corrupt and destructive, 
as many understand them. The Scripture speaks of living or walking by faith, 
and not by sight, in no other way than these, viz., a being governed by a respect 
to eternal things, that are the objects of faith, and are not seen, and not by a 
respect to temporal things, which are seen ; and believing things revealed, that 
we never saw with bodily eyes ; and also living by faith in the promise of future 
things, without yet seeing or enjoying the things promised, or knowing the way 
how they can be fulfilled. This will be easily evident to any one who looks 
over the Scriptures, which speak of faith in opposition to sight ; as 2 Cor. iv. 
18, and v. 7, Heb. xi. 1, 8, 13, 17, 27, 29, Rom. viii. 24, John xx. 29. But 
this doctrine, as it is understood by many, is, that Christians ought firmly to be 
lieve and trust in Christ, without spiritual sight or light, and although they are 
in a dark dead frame, and, for the present, have no spiritual experiences or dis 
coveries. And it is truly the duty of those who are thus in darkness, to come 
out of darkness into light and believe. But that they should confidently believe 
and trust, while they yet remain without spiritual light or sight, is an anti-scrip 
tural and absurd doctrine. The Scripture is ignorant of any such faith in 
Christ of the operation of God, that is not founded in a spiritual sight of Christ. 
That believing on Christ, which accompanies a title to everlasting life, is a 
" seeing the Son, and believing on him," John vi. 40. True faith in Christ 
is never exercised, any further than persons " behold as in a glass the glory 
of the Lord, and have the knowledge of the. glory of God in the face of Jesus 
Christ," 2 Cor. iii. 18, and iv. 6. They into whose minds " the light of the 

florious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, does not shine, believe not," 
Cor. iv. 5. That faith, which is without spiritual light, is not the faith of the 
children of the light, and of the day ; but the presumption of the children of 
darkness. And therefore to press and urge them to believe, without any spirit 
ual light or sight, tends greatly to help forward the delusions of the prince of 
darkness. Men not only cannot exercise faith without some spiritual light, but they 
can exercise faith only just in such proportion as they have spiritual light. Men 
will trust in God no further than they know him ; and they cannot be in the 
exercise of faith in him one ace further than they have a sight of his fulness 

* Mr. Shepard speaks of it, as a " presumptuous peace, that is not interrupted and broke by evil works. 
And says, that " the spirit will sigh, and not sing in that bosom, whence corrupt dispositions and pas- 
sior.s break out." And that " though men in such frames may seem to maintain the consolation of the 
Spirit, and not suspect their hypocrisy, under pretence of trusting the Lord s mercy ; yet they cannot 
avoid the condemnation of the world." Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part I. p. 139. 

Dr. Ames speaks of it as a thing, by which the peace of a wicked man may be distinguished from the 
peace of a godly man, " that the peace of a wicked man continues, whether he performs the duties of 
piety and righteousness or no ; provided those crimes are avoided that appear horrid to nature itself. 
Cases of Conscience, Lib. lit. Chap. vii. 


and faithfulness in exercise. Nor can they have the exercise of trust In God, 
any further than they are in a gracious frame. They that are in a dead carnal 
frame, doubtless ought to trust in God ; because that would be the same thing 
as coming out of their bad frame, and turning to God ; but to exhort men con 
fidently to trust in God, and so hold up their hope and peace, though they are 
not in a gracious frame, and continue still to be so, is the same thing in effect, as 
to exhort them confidentially to trust in God, but not with a gracious trust : and 
what is that but a wicked presumption ? It is just as impossible for men to 
have a strong or lively trust in God, when they have no lively exercises of grace, 
or sensible Christian experiences, as it is for them to be in the lively exercises 
of grace, without the exercises of grace. 

It is true, that it is the duty of God s people to trust in him when in darkness, 
and though they remain still in darkness, in that sense, that they ought to trust 
in God when the aspects of his providence are dark, and look as though God 
had forsaken them, and did not hear their prayers, and many clouds gather, and 
many enemies surround them, with a formidable aspect, threatening to swallow 
them up, and all events of providence seem to be against them, all circum 
stances seem to render the promises of God difficult to be fulfilled, and God 
must be trusted out of sight, i. e., when we cannot see which way it is possible 
for him to fulfil his word ; every thing but God s mere word makes it look un 
likely, so that if persons believe, they must hope against hope. Thus the ancient 
Patriarchs, and Job, and the Psalmist, and Jeremiah, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshech, 
and Abednego, and the Apostle Paul, gave glory to God by trusting in God in 
darkness. And we have many instances of such a glorious victorious faith in 
the eleventh of Hebrews. Bnt how different a thing is this, from trusting in God, 
without spiritual sight, and being at the same time in a dead and carnal frame ! 

There is also such a thing as spiritual light s being let into the soul in one 
way, when it is not in another ; and so there is such a thing as the saints trust 
ing in God, and also knowing their good estate, when they are destitute of 
some kinds of experience. As for instance, they may have clear views of God s 
sufficiency and faithfulness, and so confidently trust in him, and know that they 
are his children ; and at the same time, not have those clear and sweet ideas of 
his love as at other times : for it was thus with Christ himself in his last pas 
sion. And they may have views of much of God s sovereignty, holiness, and all 
sufficiency, enabling them quietly to submit to him, and exercise a sweet and 
most encouraging hope in God s fulness, when they are not satisfied of their 
own good estate. But how different things are these, from confidently trusting 
in God, without spiritual light or experience ! 

Those that thus insist on persons living by faith, when they have no experi 
ence, and are in very bad frames, are also very absurd in their notions of faith. 
What they mean by faith is, believing that they are in a good estate. Hence 
they count it a dreadful sin for them to doubt of their state, whatever frames 
they are in, and whatever wicked things they do, because it is the great and 
heinous sin of unbelief ; and he is the best man, and puts most honor upon God, 
that maintains his hope of his good estate the most confidently and immovably, 
when he has the least light or experience ; that is to say, when he is in the 
worst and most wicked frame and way ; because, forsooth, that is a sign that he 
is strong in faith, giving glory to God, and against hope believes in hope. But 
what Bible do they learn this notion of faith out of, that it is a man s confident 
ly believing that he is in a good estate ?* If this be faith, the Pharisees had 

* Men do not know that they are godly by believing that they are godly. We know many things 


faith in an eminent degree ; some of which, Christ teaches, committed the un 
pardonable sin against the Holy Ghost. The Scripture represents faith as that 
by which men are brought into a good estate ; and therefore it cannot be the 
same thing as believing that they are already in a good estate. To suppose 
that faith consists in persons believing that they are in a good estate, is in effect 
the same thing, as to suppose that faith consists in a person s believing that he 
has faith, or believing that he believes. 

Indeed persons doubting of their good estate, may in several respects arise 
from unbelief. It may be from unbelief, or because they have so little faith 
that they have so little evidence of their good estate : if they had more experi 
ence of the actings of faith, and so more experience of the exercise of grace, 
they would have clearer evidence that their state was good ; and so their cloubts 
would be removed. And then their doubting of their state may be from unbe 
lief thus, when, though there be many things that are good evidences of a work 
of grace in them, yet they doubt very much whether they are really in a state 
of favor with God, because it is they, those that are so unworthy, and have 
done so much to provoke God to anger against them. Their doubts in such a 
case arise from unbelief, as they arise from want of a sufficient sense of, and 
reliance on, the infinite riches of God s grace, and the sufficiency of Christ for 
the chief of sinners. They may also be from unbelief, when they doubt of 
their state, because of the mystery of God s dealings with them ; they are not 
able to reconcile such dispensations with God s favor to them ; or when they doubt 
whether they have any interest in the promises, because the promises from the 
aspect of providence appear so unlikely to be fulfilled ; the difficulties that are 
in the way are so many and great. Such doubting arises from want of depend 
ence upon God s almighty power, and his knowledge and wisdom, as infinitely 
above theirs. But yet, in such persons, their unbelief, and their doubting of 
their state, are not the same thing ; though one arises from the other. 

Persons maybe greatly to blame for doubting of their state, on such grounds 
as these last mentioned; and they may be to blame, that they have no more 
grace, and no more of the present exercises and experiences of it, to be an evi 
dence to them of the goodness of their state : men are doubtless to blame for 
being in a dead, carnal frame ; but when they are in such a frame, and have 
no sensible experience of the exercises of grace, but on the contrary, are much 
under the prevalence of their lusts and an unchristian spirit, they are not to 
blame for doubting of their state. It is as impossible, in the nature of things, that 
a holy and Christian hope should be kept alive, in its clearness and strength, in 
such circumstances, as it is to keep the light in the room, when the candle is 
put out ; or to maintain the bright sunshine in the air, when the sun is gone 
down. Distant experiences, when darkened by present prevailing lust and 
corruption, never keep alive a gracious confidence and assurance ; but that 
sickens and decays upon it, as necessarily as a little child by repeated blows on 
the head with a hammer. Nor is it at all to be lamented, that persons doubt of 
their state in such circumstances : but, on the contrary, it is desirable and every 
way best that they should. It is agreeable to that wise and merciful constitu- 

by faith, Heb. xi. 3. By faith we understand that the worlds were made by the word of God. Faith is 
the evidence of things not seen, Hcb. xi. 1. Thus men know the Trinity of persons of the Godhead ; 
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God ; that he that believes in him will have eternal life ; the resurrection 
of the dead. And if God should tell a saint that he hath grace, he might know it by believing the word of 
God. . But it is not this way, that godly men do know that they have grace. It is not revealed in the 
word, and the Spirit of God doth not testify it to particular persons. StoddarcTs Nature of Saving Con 
version, p. 83, 84. 


don cf things, which God hath established, that it should be so. For so hath 
God contrived and constituted things, in his dispensations towards his own peo 
ple, that when their love decays, and the exercises of it fail, or become weak, 
fear should arise ; for then they need it to restrain them from sin, and to excite 
them to care for the good of their souls, and so to stir them up to watchfulness 
and diligence in religion : but God hath so ordered, that when love rises, and 
is in vigorous exercise, then fear should vanish, and be driven away ; for then 
they need it not, having a higher and more excellent principle in exercise, to 
restrain them from sin, and stir them up to their duty. There are no other 
principles, which human nature is under the influence of, that will ever make 
men conscientious, but one of these two, fear or love ; and therefore, if one of 
these should not prevail as the other decays, God s people, when fallen into 
dead and carnal frames, when love is asleep, would be lamentably exposed in 
deed : and therefore God has wisely ordained, that these two opposite principles 
of love and fear should rise and fall, like the two opposite scales of a balance ; 
when one rises the other sinks. As light and darkness necessarily and unavoid 
ably succeed each other; if light prevails, so much does darkness cease, and no 
more ; and if light decays, so much does darkness prevail ; so it is in the heart 
of a child of God : if divine love decays and falls asleep, and lust prevails, the 
light and joy of hope go out, and dark fear and doubting arises ; and if, on the 
contrary, divine love prevails and comes into lively exercise, this brings in the 
brightness of hope, and drives away black lust, and fear with it. Love is the 
spirit of adoption, or the childlike principle ; if that slumbers, men fall under 
fear, which is the spirit of bondage, or the servile principle ; and so on the con 
trary. And if it be so, that love, or the spirit of adoption, be carried to a great 
height, it quite drives away all fear, and gives full assurance ; agreeable to that 
of the apostle, 1 John iv. 18, " There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out 
fear." These two opposite principles of lust and holy love, bring hope and fear 
into the hearts of God s children, in proportion as they prevail ; that is, when 
left to their own natural influence, without something adventitious, or accidental 
intervening ; as the distemper of melancholy, doctrinal ignorance, prejudices of 
education, wrong instruction, false principles, peculiar temptations, &c. 

Fear is cast put by the Spirit of God, no other way than by the prevailing 
of love ; nor is it ever maintained by his Spirit but when love is asleep. At 
such a time, in vain is all the saint s self-examinations, and poring on past expe 
rience, in order to establish his peace, and get assurance. For ft is contrary to 
the nature of things, as God hath constituted them, that he should have assu 
rance at such a time. 

They therefore do directly thwart God s wise and gracious constitution of 
things, who exhort others to be confident in their hope, when in dead frames; 
under a notion of of" living by faith, and not by sight, and trusting God in the 
dark, and living upon Christ, and not upon experiences ;" and warn them not 
to doubt of their good estate, lest they should be guilty of the dreadful sin of 
unbelief. And it has a direct tendency to establish the most presumptuous hypo 
crites, and to prevent their ever calling their state in question, how much so 
ever wickedness rages, and reigns in their hearts, and prevails in their lives ; 
under a notion of honoring God, by hoping against hope, and confidently trust 
ing in God, when things look very iark. And doubtless vast has been the 
mischief that has been done this way. 

Persons cannot be said to forsake Christ, and live on their experiences of 
the exercises of grace, merely because they take them and use them as eviden 
ces of grace ; for there are no other evidences that they can or ought to take 


But then may persons be said to live upon their experiences, when they make 
a righteousness of them, and instead of keeping their eye on God s gloiy and 
Christ s excellency, they turn their eyes off these objects without them, on to 
themselves, to entertain their minds, by viewing their own attainments, and 
high experiences, and the great things they have met with, and are bright and 
beautiful in their own eyes, and are rich and increased with goods in their own 
apprehensions, and think that God has as admiring an esteem of them, on the 
same account, as they have of themselves : this is living on experiences, and not 
on Christ ; and is more abominable in the sight of God, than the gross immo 
ralities of those who make no pretences to religion. But this is a far different 
thing from a mere improving experiences as evidences of an interest in a glori 
ous Redeemer. 

But to return from this digression, I would mention one thing more under 
the general head that I am upon. 

XII. Nothing can be certainly concluded concerning the nature of religious 
affections, that any are the subjects of, from this, that the outward manifesta 
tions of them, and the relation persons give of them, are very affecting and pleas 
ing to the truly godly, and such as greatly gain their charity, and win their 

The true saints have not such a spirit of discerning that they can certainly de 
termine who are godly, and who are not. For though they know experimen 
tally what true religion is, in the internal exercises of it ; yet these are what 
they can neither feel, nor see, in the heart of another.* There is nothing in 
others, that comes within their view, but outward manifestations and appear 
ances ; but the Scripture plainly intimates, that this way of judging what is in 
men by outward appearances, is at best uncertain, and liable to deceit : 1 Sam. 
xvi. 7, " The Lord seeth not as man seeth ; for man looketh on the outward ap 
pearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." Isa. xi. 3, " He shall not judge 
after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears."f They 
commonly are but poor judges, and dangerous counsellors in soul cases, who are 
quick and peremptory in determining persons states, vaunting themselves in 
their extraordinary faculty of discerning and distinguishing, in these great affairs ; 
as though all was open and clear to them. They betray one of these three 
things : either that they have had but little experience ; or are persons of a 
weak judgment; or that they have a great degree of pride and self-confidence, 
and so ignorance of themselves. Wise and experienced men will proceed 
with great caution in such an affair. 

When there are many probable appearances of piety in others, it is the duty 
of the saints . to receive them cordially into their charity, and to love them and 
rejoice in them, as their brethren in Christ Jesus. But yet the best of -men may 
be deceived, when the appearances seem to them exceeding fair and bright, 
even so as entirely to gain their charity, and conquer their hearts. It has been 
a common thing in the church of God, for such bright professors, that are re- 

* Men may have the knowledge of their own conversion : the knowledge that other men have of it is 
uncertain, because no man can look into the heart of another and see the workings of grace there." Stod- 
dard s Nature of Saving Conversion, chap. xv. at the beginning. 

t Mr. Stoddard observes, that "all visible signs are common to converted and unconverted men ; 
and a relation of experiences, among the rest." Appeal to the Learned, p. 75. 

" O how hard it is for the eye of man to discern betwixt chaff and wheat ! And how many upright 
hearts aie now censured, whom God will clear ! How many false hearts are now approved whom God 
will condemn ! Men ordinarily have no convictive proofs, but only probable symptoms ; which at most 
beget but a conjectural knowledge of another s state. And they that shall peremptorily judge either way. 
may possibly wrong the generation of the upright, or on the other side, absolve and justify the wicked 
And truly, considering what has been said, it is no wonder that dangerous mistakes are so frequently 
made in this matter." FlavtVs Husbandry Spiritualized, chap. xii. 

VOL. HI. 8 


ceived as eminent saints, among the saints, to fall away and come to nothing.* 
And this we need not wonder at, if we consider the things that have been alrea 
dy observed ; what things it has been shown may appear in men who are alto 
gether graceless. Nothing hinders but that all these things may meet together 
in men, and yet they be without a spark of grace in their hearts. They may 
have religious affections of many kinds together ; they may have a sort of affec 
tion towards God, that bears a great resemblance of dear love to him ; and so 
a kind of love to the brethren, and great appearances of admiration of God s 
perfections and works, and sorrow for sin, and reverence, submission, self-abase 
ment, gratitude, joy. religious longings, and zeal for religion and the good of 
souls. And these affections may come after great awakenings and convictions 
of conscience ; and there may be great appearances of a work of humiliation : 
and counterfeit love and joy, and other affections may seem to follow these, and 
one another, just in the same order that is commonly observable in the holy af 
fections cf true converts. And these religious affections may be carried to a 
great height, and may cause abundance of tears, yea, may overcome the nature 
of those who are the subjects of them, and may make them affectionate, and 
fervent, and fluent, in speaking of the things of God, and dispose them to be 
abundant in it ; and may be attended with many sweet texts of Scripture, and 
precious promises, brought with great impression on their minds ; and may dis 
pose them with their mouths to praise and glorify God, in a very ardent man 
ner, and fervently to call upon others to praise him, crying out of their un wor 
thiness, and extolling free grace. And may, moreover, dispose them to abound 
in the external duties of religion, such as prayer, hearing the word preached, 
singing, and religious conference ; and these things attended with a great re 
semblance of a Christian assurance, in its greatest height, when the saints 
mount on eagles wings, above all darkness and doubting. I think it has been 
made plain, that there may be all these things, and yet there be nothing more 
than the common influences of the Spirit of God, joined with the delusions of 
Satan, and the wicked and deceitful heart. To which I may add, that all these 
things may be attended with a sweet natural temper, and a good doctrinal 
knowledge of religion, and a long acquaintance with the saints way of talking, 
and of expressing their affections and experiences, and a natural ability and 
subtilty in accommodating their expressions and manner of speaking to the dis 
positions and notions of the hearers, and a taking decency of expression and be 
havior, formed by a good education. How great therefore may the resemblance 
be, as to all outward expressions and appearances, between a hypocrite and a 
true saint ! Doubtless it is the glorious prerogative of the omniscient God, as 
the great searcher of hearts, to be able well to separate between sheep and 
goats. And what an indecent self-exaltation and arrogance it is, in poor, fal 
lible, dark mortals, to pretend that they can determine and know, who are real 
ly sincere and upright before God, and who are not ! 

Many seem to lay great weight on that, and to suppose it to be what may 

ff " Be not offended, if you see great cedars fall, stars fall from heaven, great professors die and decay : 
do not think they be all such : do not think that the elect shall fall. Truly, some are such that when they 
fall, one would think a man truly sanctified might fall away, as the Arminians think : 1 John ii. 19, They 
were not of us. I speak this, because the Lord is shaking ; and I look for great apostasies : for God is 
trying all his friends, through all the Christian world. In Germany what profession was there ! Who 
would have thought it ? The Lord, who delights to manifest that openly, which was hid secretly, sends 
& sword and they fall." Shepard s Parab. Part I. p. 118, 119. 

" The saints may approve thee and God condemn thee. Rev. lii. 1, " Thou hast a name that thou 
livest, and art dead." Men may say, 1 here is a true Nathanael ; and God may say, There is a self-cozen 
ing Pharisee. Reader, thou hast heard of Judas and Demas, of Ananias and Sapphira, of Hymeneus 
and Philetus, once renowned and famous professors, and thou hast heard how they proved at last." 7*70- 
veFt To-Mhsione of Sincerity, Chap. ii. Sect. 5. 


determine them with respect to others real piety, when they not only tell a 
plausible sr.ory, but when, in giving an account of their experiences, they make 
such a representation, and speak after such a manner, that they feel their talk; 
that is to say, when their talk seems to harmonize with their own experience, 
and then hearts are touched and affected and delighted, by what they hear 
them say, and drawn out by it, in dear love to them. But there is not that cer 
tainty in such things, and that full dependence to be had upon them, which 
many imagine. A true saint greatly delights in holiness ; it is a most beautiful 
thing in his eyes ; and God s work, in savingly renewing and making holy and 
happy, a poor, and before perishing soul, appears to him a most glorious work : 
no wonder, therefore, that his heart is touched, and greatly affected, when he 
hears another give a probable account of this work, wrought on his own heart, 
and when he sees in him probable appearances of holiness ; whether those pleas 
ing appearances have any thing real to answer them, or no. And if he uses 
the same words, which are commonly made use of, to express the affections of 
true saints, and tells of many things following one another in an order, agreea 
ble to the method of the experience of him that hears him, and also speaks free 
ly and boldly, and with an air of assurance ; no wonder the other thinks his 
experiences harmonize with his own. And if, besides all this, in giving his re 
lation, he speaks with much affection ; and, above all, if in speaking he seems 
to show much affection to him to whom he speaks, such an affection as the Ga- 
latians did to the Apostle Paul ; these things will naturally have a powerful 
influence, to affect and draw his hearer s heart, and open wide the doors of his 
charity towards him. David speaks as one who had felt Ahithophel s talk, and 
had once a sweet savor and relish of it. And therefore exceeding great was 
his surprise and disappointment, when he fell ; it was almost too much for him : 
Psal. Iv. 12, 13, 14, " It was not an enemy then I could have borne it ; but 
it was thou, a man,, mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance : we took 
sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company." 

It is with professors of religion, especially such as become so in a time of 
outpouring of the Spirit of God, as it is with blossoms in the spring ;* there are 
vast numbers of them upon the trees, which all look fair and promising ; but 
yet many of them never come to any thing. And many of those, that in a 
little time wither up, and drop off, and rot under the trees ; yet for a while look 
as beautiful and gay as others ; and not only so, but smell sweet, and send forth 
a pleasant odor ; so that we cannot, by any of our senses, certainly distinguish 
those blossoms which have in them that secret virtue, which will afterwards 
appear in the fruit, and that inward solidity and strength which shall enable 
them to bear, and cause them to be perfected by the hot summer sun, that will 
dry up the others. It is the mature fruit which comes afterwards, and not the 
beautiful colors and smell of the blossoms, that we must judge by. So new 
converts (professedly so), in their talk about things of religion, may appear fair, 
and be very savory, and the saints may think they talk feelingly. They may 
relish their talk, and imagine they perceive a divine savor in it, and yet all may 
come to nothing. 

It is strange how hardly men are brought to be contented with the rules and 
directions Christ has given them, but they must needs go by other rules of their 
own inventing, that seem to them wiser and better. I know of no directions or 
counsels which Christ ever delivered more plainly, than the rules he has given 

* A time of outpouring of the Spirit of God, reviving religion, and producing the pleasant appearances 
of it, in new converts, is in Scriptuie compared to this very thing, viz., the spring season, when the be 
nign influences of the heavens ?iuse the blossoms to put forth. Cant. ii. 11, 12, 



us, to guide us in our judging of others sincerity, viz., that we should judge of the 
tree chiefly by the fruit : but yet this will not do ; but other ways are found out, 
which are imagined to be more distinguishing and certain. And woful have 
been the mischievous consequences of this arrogant setting up men s wisdom 
above the wisdom of Christ. I believe many saints have gone much out of the 
way of Christ s word, in this respect : and some of them have been chastised 
with whips, and (I had almost said) scorpions, to bring them back again. But 
many things which have lately appeared, and do now appear, may convince, 
that ordinarily those who have gone farthest this way, that have been most 
highly conceited of their faculty of discerning, and have appeared most forward, 
peremptorily and suddenly to determine the state of men s souls, have been 
hypocrites, who have known nothing of true religion. 

In the parable of the wheat and tares, it is said, Matt. xiii. 26, " When the 
blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also." 
As though the tares were not discerned, nor distinguishable from the wheat, 
until then, as Mr. Flavel observes,* who mentions it as an observation of 
Jerome s, that " wheat and tares are so much alike, until the blade of the wheat 
comes to bring forth the ear, that it is next to impossible to distinguish them." 
And then Mr. Flavel adds, " How difficult soever it be to discern the difference 
between wheat and tares ; yet doubtless the eye of sense can much easier dis 
criminate them, than the most quick and piercing eye of man can discern the 
difference between special and common grace. For all saving graces in the 
saints, have their counterfeits in hypocrites ; there are similar works in those, 
which a spiritual and very judicious eye may easily mistake for the saving and 
genuine effects of a sanctifying spirit." 

As it is the ear or the fruit which distinguishes the wheat from the tares, so 
this is the true Shibboleth, that he who stands as judge at the passages of Jordan, 
makes use of to distinguish those that shall pass over Jordan into the true 
Canaan, from those that should be slain at the passages. For the Hebrew 
word Shibboleth signifies an ear of corn. And perhaps the more full pronun 
ciation of Jephthah s friends, Shibboleth, may represent a full ear with fruit in 
it, typifying the fruits of the friends of Christ, the antitype of Jephthah ; and 
the more lean pronunciation of the Ephraimites, his enemies, may represent 
their empty ears, typifying the show of religion in hypocrites, without substance 
and fruit. This is agreeable to the doctrine we are abundantly taught in Scrip 
ture, viz., that he who is set to judge those that pass through death, whether 
they have a right to enter into the heavenly Canaan or no, or whether they 
should not be slain, will judge every man according to his works. 

We seem to be taught the same things, by the rules given for the priest s 
discerning the leprosy. Jn many cases it was impossible for the priest to deter 
mine whether a man had the leprosy, or whether he were clean, by the most 
narrow inspection of the appearances that were upon him, until he had waited 
to see what the appearances would come to, and had shut up the person who 
showed himself to him, one seven days after another j and when he judged, he 
was to determine by the hair, which grew out of the spot that was showed him, 
which was as it were the fruit that it brought forth. 

And here, before I finish what I have to say under this head, I would say 
something to a strange notion some have of late been led away with, of cer 
tainly knowing the good estate that others are in, as though it were immedi 
ately revealed to them from heaven, by their love flowing out to them in an 

* Husbandry Spiritualized, Chap, xia 


extraordinary manner. They argue thus, that their love being very sensible 
and great, it may be certainly known by them who feel it, to be a true Chris 
tian love : and if it be a true Christian love, the Spirit of God must be the au 
thor of it : and inasmuch as the Spirit of God who knows certainly, whether 
others are the children of God or no, and is a spirit of truth, is pleased by an 
uncommon influence upon them, to cause their love to flow out, in an extraor 
dinary manner, towards such a person as a child of God ; it must needs be, that 
this infallible Spirit, who deceives none, knows that that person is a child of 
God. But such persons might be convinced of the falseness of their reasoning, 
if they would consider whether or no it be not their duty, and what God requires 
of them, to love those as the children of God who they think are the children 
of God, and whom they have no reason to think otherwise of, from all that they 
can see in them, though God, who searches the hearts, knows them not to be 
his children. 

If it be their duty, then it is good, and the want of it sin ; and therefore 
surely the Spirit of God -may be the author of it : the Spirit of God, without 
being a spirit of falsehood, may in such a case assist a person to do his duty, 
and keep him from sin. But then they "argue from the uncommon degree and 
special manner, in which their love flows out to the person, which they think 
the Spirit of God never would cause, if he did not know the object to be a child 
of God. But then I would ask them, whether or no it is not their duty to love 
all such as they are bound to think are the children of God, from all that they 
can see in them, to a very great degree, though God, from other things which 
he sees, that are out of sight to them, knows them not to be so. It is men s 
duty to love all whom they are bound in charity to look upon as the children 
of God, with a vastly dearer affection than they commonly do. As we ought 
to love Christ to the utmost capacity of our nature, so it is our duty to love 
those who we think are so near and dear to him as his members, with an ex 
ceeding dear affection, as Christ has loved us ; and therefore it is sin in us not 
to love them so. We ought to pray to God that he would by his Spirit keep 
us from sin, and enable us to do our duty : and may not his Spirit answer our 
prayers, and enable us to do our duty, in a particular instance, without lying ? 
If he cannot, then the Spirit of God is bound not to help his people to do their 
duty in some instances, because he cannot do it without being a spirit of false 
hood. But surely God is so sovereign as that comes to, that he may enable us 
to do our duty when he pleases, and on what occasion he pleases. When per 
sons think others are his children, God may have other ends in causing their 
exceedingly endeared love to flow out to them, besides revealing to them whe 
ther their opinion of them be right or no : he may have that merciful end in it, 
to enable them to know their duty, and to keep them from that dreadful infinite 
evil, sin. And will they say God shall not show them that mercy in such a 
case ? If I am at a distance from home, and hear, that in my absence my house 
is burnt, but my family have, in some extraordinary manner, all escaped the 
flames ; and every thing in the circumstances of the story, as I hear it, makes it 
appear very credible, it would be sin in me, in such a case, not to feel a very 
great degree of gratitude to God, though the story indeed be not true. And is not 
God so sovereign, that he may, if he pleases, show me that mercy on that oc 
casion, and enable me to do my duty in a much further degree than I used to 
d} it, and yet not incur the charge of deceitfulness in confirming a falsehood 1 

It is exceeding manifest, that error or mistake may be the occasion of a 
gracious exercise, and consequently a gracious influence of the Spirit of God, 
by Rom. xiv. 6 : "He that eateth to the Lord he eateth, and giveth God 


thanks ; and he that eateth not to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God 
thanks !" The apostle is speaking of those, who through erroneous and need 
less scruples, avoided eating legally unclean meats. By this it is very evident, 
that there may be true exercises of grace, a true respect to the Lord, and par 
ticularly, a true thankfulness, which may be occasioned, both by an erroneous 
judgment and practice. And consequently, an error may be the occasion of 
those true holy exercises that are from the infallible Spirit of God. And if so, 
it is certainly too much for us to determine, to how great a degree the Spirit of 
God may give this holy exercise, on such an occasion. 

This notion, of certainly discerning another s state, by love flowing out, i* 
not only not founded on reason or Scripture, but it is anti-scriptural, it is against 
the rules of Scripture ; which say not a word of any such way of judging the 
state of others as this, but direct us to judge chiefly by the fruits that are seen 
in them. And it is against the doctrines of Scripture, which do plainly teach 
us, that the state of others souls towards God cannot be known by us, as in 
Rev. ii. 17 : " To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, 
and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which 
no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it." And Rom. ii. 29, " He is a Jew, 
which is one inwardly ; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, 
and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God." That by 
this last expression, " whose praise is not of men, but of God," the apostle has 
respect to the insufficiency of men to judge concerning him, whether he be in 
wardly a Jew or no (as they could easily see by outward marks, whether men 
were outwardly Jews), and would signify, that it belongs to God alone to give a 

determining voice in this matter, is confirmed by the same apostle s use of the 
phrase, in 1 Cor. iv. 5 : " Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the 
Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will 
make manifest the counsels of the heart :" and then shall every man have 

h~. -. . o yse, yet 

ereby justified ; but he that judgeth me is the Lord." And again, it is further 
confirmed, because the apostle, in this second chapter to the Romans, directs his 
speech especially to those who had a high conceit of their own holiness, made 
their boast of God, and were confident of their own discerning, and that they 
knew God s will, and approved the things which were excellent, or tried 
the things that differ (as it is in the margin), ver. 19 : " And were confident 
that they were guides of the blind, and a light to them which are in darkness, 
instructors of the foolish, teachers of babes ; and so took upon them to judge 
others." See ver. 1, and 17, 18, 19, 20. 

And how arrogant must the notion be, that they have, who imagine they 
can certainly know others godliness, when that great Apostle Peter pretends 
not to say any more concerning Sylvanus, than that he was a faithful brother, 
as he supposed ! 1 Pet. v. 12. Though this Sylvanus appears to have been 
a very eminent minister of Christ, and an evangelist, and a famous light in God s 
church at that day, and an intimate companion of the apostles. See 2 Cor. i. 
19, iThess. i. l,and2Thess.i. 1. 




I COME now to the second thing appertaining to the trial of religious affec 
tions, which was proposed, viz., To take notice of some things, wherein those 
affections that are spiritual and gracious, do differ from those that are 
not so. 

But before I proceed directly to the distinguishing characters, I would pre 
viously mention some things which I desire may be observed, concerning the 
marks I shall lay down. 

1. That I am far from undertaking to give such signs of gracious affections, 
as shall be sufficient to enable any certainly to distinguish true affection from 
false in others ; or to determine positively which of their neighbors are true pro 
fessors, and which are hypocrites. In so doing, I should be guilty of that arro 
gance which I have been condemning. Though it be plain that Chrisf has given 
rules to all Christians, to enable them to judge of professors of religion, whom 
they are concerned with, so far as is necessary for their own safety, and to pre 
vent their being led into a snare by false teachers, and false pretenders to religion ; 
and though it be also beyond doubt, that the Scriptures do abound with rules, 
which may be very serviceable to ministers, in counselling and conducting souls 
committed to their care, in things appertaining to their spiritual and eternal 
state ; yet it is also evident, that it was never God s design to give us any rules, 
by which we may certainly know, who of our fellow professors are his, and to 
make a full and clear separation between sheep and goats ; but that, on the 
contrary, it was God s design to reserve this to himself, as his prerogative. And 
therefore no such distinguishing signs as shall enable Christians or ministers to 
do this, are ever to be expected to the world s end : for no more is ever to be ex 
pected from any signs, that are to be found in the word of God, or gathered from 
it, than Christ designed them for. 

2. No such signs are to be expected, that shall be sufficient to enable those 
saints certainly to discern their own good estate, who are very low in grace, or 
are such as have much departed from God, and are fallen into a dead, carnal, 
and unchristian frame. It is not agreeable to God s design (as has been already 
observed), that such should know their good estate : nor is it desirable that 
they should ; but, on the contrary, every way best that they should not ; and we 
have reason to bless God, that he has made no provision that such should cer 
tainly know the state that they are in, any other way than by first coming out of 
the ill frame and way they are in. Indeed it is not properly through the defect 
of the signs given in the word of God, that every saint living, whether strong 
or weak, and those who are in a bad frame, as well as others, cannot certainly 
know their good estate by them. For the rules in themselves are certain and 
infallible, and every saint has, or has had those things in himself, which are sure 
evidences of grace ; for every, even the least act of grace is so. But it is through 
his defect to whom the signs are given. There is a twofold defect in that saint 
who is very low in grace, or in an ill frame, which makes it impossible for him 
to know certainly that he has true grace, by the best signs and rules which can 
be given him. First, a defect in the object, or the qualification to be viewed 
and examined. I do not mean an essential defect ; because I suppose the per- 


son to be a real saint ; but a defect in degree : grace being very small, cannot 
be clearly and certainly discerned and distinguished. 

Things that are very small, we cannot clearly discern their form, or distin 
guish them one from another ; though, as they are in themselves, their form 
may be very different. There is doubtless a great difference between the body 
of man, and the bodies of other animals, in the first conception in the womb : 
but yet if we should view the different embryos, it might not be possible for us 
to discern the difference, by reason of the imperfect state of the object ; but as 
it comes to greater perfection, the difference becomes very plain. The difference 
between creatures of very contrary qualities, is not so plainly to be seen while 
they are very young ; even after they are actually brought forth, as in their 
more perfect state. The difference between doves and ravens, or doves and vul 
tures, when they first come out of the egg, is not so evident ; but as they grow 
to their perfection, it is exceeding great and manifest. Another defect attend 
ing the grace of those I am speaking of is its being mingled with so much cor 
ruption, which clouds and hides it, and makes it impossible for it certainly to be 
known. Though different things that are before us, may have in themselves 
many marks thoroughly distinguishing them one from another ; yet if we see 
them only in a thick smoke, it may nevertheless be impossible to distinguish 
them. A fixed star is easily distinguishable from a comet, in a clear sky ; but 
if we view them through a cloud, it may be impossible to see the difference 
When true Christians are in an ill frame, guilt lies on the conscience ; which 
will bring fear, and so prevent the peace and joy of an assured hope. 

Secondly. There is in such a case a defect in the eye. As the feebleness of 
grace and prevalence of corruption, obscures the object ; so it enfeebles the sight ; 
it darkens the sight as to all spiritual objects, of which grace is one. Sin is 
like some distempers of the eyes, that make things to appear of different colors 
from those which properly belong to them, and like many other distempers, that 
put the mouth out of taste so as to disenable it from distinguishing good and 
wholesome food from bad, but every thing tastes bitter. 

Men in a corrupt and carnal frame, have their spiritual senses in but poor 
plight for judging and distinguishing spiritual things. 

For these reasons no signs that can be given, will actually satisfy persons 
..n such a case : let the signs that are given be never so good and infallible, and 
clearly laid down, they will not serve them. It is like giving a man rules, how 
to distinguish visible objects in the dark ; the things themselves may be very 
different, and their difference may be very well and distinctly described to him ; 
yet all is insufficient to enable him to distinguish them, because he is in the 
dark. And therefore many persons in such a case spend time in a fruitless 
labor, in poring on past experiences, and examining themselves by signs they 
hear laid down from the pulpit, or that they read in books ; when there is other 
work for them to do, that is much more expected of them ; which, while they 
neglect, all their self-examinations are like to be in vain if they should spend 
never so much time in them. The accursed thing is to be destroyed from their 
camp, and Achan to be slain ; and until this be done they will be in trouble. 
It is not God s design that men should obtain assurance in any other way, than 
by mortifying corruption, and increasing in grace, and obtaining the lively exer 
cises of it. And although self-examination be a duty of great use and impor 
tance, and by no means to be neglected ; yet it is not the principal means, by 
which the saints do get satisfaction of their good estate. Assurance is not to be 
obtained so much by self -examination, as by action. The Apostle Paul sought 
assurance chiefly this way, even by " forgetting the things that were behind. 


and reaching forth unto those things that were before, pressing towards the 
mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus ; if by any means 
he might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." And it was by this means 
chiefly that he obtained assurance : 1 Cor. ix. 26, " I therefore so run, not as 
uncertainly." He obtained assurance of winning the prize, more by running, 
than by considering. The swiftness of his pace did more towards his assurance 
of a conquest, than the strictness of his examination. Giving all diligence to 
grow in grace, by adding to faith, virtue, &c., is the direction that the Apostle 
Peter gives us, for " making our calling and election sure, and having an entrance 
ministered to us abundantly, into Christ s everlasting kingdom ;" signifying to 
us, that without this, our eyes will be dim, and w r e shall be as men in the dark, 
that cannot plainly see things past or to come, either the forgiveness of our sins 
past, or our heavenly inheritance that is future, and far off, 2 Pet. i. 5 11.* 

Therefore, though good rules to distinguish true grace from counterfeit, may 
tend to convince hypocrites, and be of great use to the saints, in many respects ; 
and among other benefits may be very useful to them to remove many needless 
scruples, and establish their hope ; yet I am far from pretending to lay down 
any such rules, as shall be sufficient of themselves, without other means, to en 
able all true saints to see their good estate, or as supposing they should be the 
principal means of their satisfaction. 

3. Nor is there much encouragement, in the experience of present or past 
times, to lay down rules or marks to distinguish between true and false affec 
tions, in hopes of convincing any considerable number of that sort of hypocrites, 
who have been deceived with great false discoveries and affections, and are once 
settled in a false confidence, and high conceit of their own supposed great expe 
riences and privileges. Such hypocrites are so conceited of their own wisdom, 
and so blinded and hardened with a very great self-righteousness (but very 
subtle and secret, under the disguise of great humility), and so invincible a fond 
ness of their pleasing conceit of their great exaltation, that it usually signifies 
nothing at all to lay before them the most convincing evidences of their hypo 
crisy. Their state is indeed deplorable, and next to those who have committed 
the unpardonable sin. Some of this sort of persons seem to be most out of the 
reach of means of conviction and repentance. But yet the laying down good 
rules may be a means of preventing such hypocrites, and of convincing many of 
other kinds of hypocrites ; and God is able to convince even this kind, and his 
grace is not to be limited, nor means to be neglected. And besides, such rules 
may be of use to the true saints, to detect false affections, which they may have 
mingled with true ; and be a means of their religion s becoming more pure, and 
like gold tried in the fire. 

Having premised these things, I now proceed directly to take notice of those 
things in which true religious affections are distinguished from false. 

I. Affections that are truly spiritual and gracious, do arise from those influ 
ences and operations on the heart, which are spiritual, supernatural and divine. 

I will explain what I mean by these terms, whence will appear their use to 
distinguish between those affections which are spiritual, and those which are 
not so. 

We find that true saints, or those persons who are sanctified by the Spirit of 

The way to know your godliness is to renew the visible exercises of grace. The more the visible 
exercises of grace are renewed, the more certain you will be. The more frequently these actings are 
renewed, the more abiding and confirmed your assurance will be. 

The more men s grace is multiplied, the more their peace is multiplied ; 2 Pet. i. 2, " Grace and 
peace be multiplied unto you, through the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ our Lord." Stoddar<?s 
TVay to know Sincerity and Hypocrisy, p. 139 and 142. 



God, are in the New Testament called spiritual persons. And their being spirit 
ual is spoken of as their peculiar character, and that wherein they are distin 
guished from those who are not sanctified. This is evident, because those who 
are spiritual are set in opposition to natural men, and carnal men. Thus the 
spiritual man and the natural man are set in opposition one to another, 1 Cor. 
ii. 14, 15 : " The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ; for 
they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are 
spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things." The Scrip 
ture explains itself to mean an ungodly man, or one that has no grace, by a 
natural man : thus the Apostle Jude, speaking of certain ungodly men, that had 
crept in unawares among the saints, ver. 4, of his epistle, says, v. 19, "These 
are sensual, having not the Spirit." This the apostle gives as a reason why 
they behaved themselves in such a wicked manner as he had described. Here 
the word translated sensual, in the original is \IJV%MOI., which is the very same, 
which in those verses in 1 Cor. chap. ii. is translated natural. In the like man 
ner, in the continuation of the same discourse, in the next verse but one, spiritual 
men are opposed to carnal men ; which the connection plainly shows mean the 
same, as spiritual men and natural men, in the foregoing verses; " And I, 
brethren, could not speak unto you, as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal ;" i. e., 
as in a great measure unsanctified. That by carnal the apostle means corrupt 
and unsanctified. is abundantly evident, by Rom. vii. 25, and viii. 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 
8, 9, 12, 13, Gal. v. 16, to the end, Col. ii. 18. Now therefore, if by natural 
and carnal in these texts, be intended unsanctified, then doubtless by spiritual, 
which is opposed thereto, is meant sanctified and gracious. 

And as the saints are called spiritual in Scripture, so we also find that there 
are certain properties, qualities, and principles, that have the same epithet given 
them. So we read of a " spiritual mind," Rom. viii. 6, 7, and of u spiritual 
wisdom," Col. i. 9, and of " spiritual blessings," Eph. i. 3. 

Now it may be observed, that the epithet spiritual, in these and other parallel 
texts of the New Testament, is not used to signify any relation of persons or 
things to the spirit or soul of man, as the spiritual part of man, in opposition to 
the body, which is the material part. Qualities are not said to be spiritual, because 
they have their seat in the soul, and not in the body : for there are some pro 
perties that the Scripture calls carnal or fleshly, which have their seat as much 
in the soul, as those properties that are called spiritual. Thus it is with pride 
and self-righteousness, and a man s trusting to his own wisdom, which the 
apostle calls fleshly, Col. ii. 18. Nor are things called spiritual, because they 
are conversant about those things that are immaterial, and not corporeal. For 
so was the wisdom of the wise men, and princes of this world, conversant about 
spirits, and immaterial beings ; which yet the apostle speaks of as natural men, 
totally ignorant of those things that are spiritual, 1 Cor. chap. ii. But it is with 
relation to the Holy Ghost, or Spirit of God, that persons or things are termed 
spiritual in the New Testament. Spirit, as the word is used to signify the third 
person in the Trinity, is the substantive, of which is formed the adjective spir 
itual, in the holy Scriptures. Thus Christians are called spiritual persons, be 
cause they are born of the Spirit, and because pf the indwelling and holy influ 
ences of the Spirit of God in them. And things are called spiritual as related 
to the Spirit of God ; 1 Cor. ii. 13, 14, " Which things also we speak, not in 
the words which man s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth , 
comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth noi 
the things of the Spirit of God." Here the apostle himself expressly signifies, 
that by spiritual things, he means the things of the Spirit of God, and things 


which the Holy Ghost teacheth. The same is yet more abundantly apparent 
by viewing the whole context. Again, Rom. viii. 6, " To be carnally minded, 
is death ; to be spiritually minded, is life and peace." The apostle explains 
what he means by being carnally and spiritually minded in what follows in the 
9th verse, and shows that by being spiritually minded, he means a having the in 
dwelling and holy influences of the Spirit of God in the heart : " But ye are not 
in the flesh, but in the Spirit, it so be the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if 
any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." The same is evident 
by all the context. But time would fail to produce all the evidence there is 
of this, in the New Testament. 

And it must be here observed, that although it is with relation to the Spirit 
of God and his influences, that persons and things are called spiritual ; yet not 
all those persons who are subject to any kind of influence of the Spirit of God, 
are ordinarily called spiritual in the New Testament. They who have only the 
common influences of God s Spirit, are not so called, in the places cited above, 
but only those who have the special, gracious, and saving influences of God s 
Spirit ; as is evident, because it has been already proved, that by spiritual men 
is meant godly men, in opposition to natural, carnal, and unsanctified men. 
And it is most plain, that the apostle by spiritually minded, Rom. viii. 6, means 
graciously minded. And though the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, which 
natural men might have, are sometimes called spiritual, because they are from 
the Spirit ; yet natural men, whatever gifts of the Spirit they had, were not, in 
the usual language of the New Testament, called spiritual persons. For it was 
not by men s having the gifts of the Spirit, but by their having the virtues of 
the Spirit, that they were called spiritual; as is apparent by Gal. vi. 1 : " Bre 
thren, if any man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a 
one in the spirit of meekness." Meekness is one of those virtues which the 
apostle had just spoken of, in the verses next preceding, showing what are the 
fruits of the Spirit. Those qualifications are said to be spiritual in the lan 
guage of the New Testament, which are truly gracious and holy, and peculiar 
to the saints. 

Thus, when we read of spiritual wisdom and understanding (as in Col. i. 9, 
" We desire that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom 
and spiritual understanding"), hereby is intended that wisdom which is gracious, 
and from the sanctifying influences of the Spirit of God. For, doubtless, by 
spiritual wisdom is meant that which is opposite to what the Scripture calls 
natural wisdom ; as the spiritual man is opposed to the natural man. And there 
fore spiritual wisdom is doubtless the same with that wisdom which is from above, 
that the Apostle James speaks of, Jam. iii. 17 : " The wisdom that is from above, 
is first pure, then peaceable, gentle," &c., for this the apostle opposes to natural 
wisdom, ver. 15 : " This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sen 
sual" the last word in the original is the same that is translated natural, in 1 
Cor. ii. 14. 

So that although natural men may be the subjects of many influences of the 
Spirit of God, as is evident by many Scriptures, as Numb. xxiv. 2, 1 Sam. x. 
10, and xi. 6, and xvi. 14, 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2, 3, Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6, and many others ; 
yet they are not, in the sense of the Scripture, spiritual persons ; neither are any 
of those effects, common gifts, qualities, or affections, that are from the influence 
of the Spirit of God upon them, called spiritual things. The great difference 
lies in these tw r o things. 

1. The Spirit of God is given to the true saints to dwell in them, as his 
proper lasting abode ; and to influence their hearts, as a principle of new nature, 


or as a divine supernatural spripg of life and action. The Scriptures represent 
the Holy Spirit not only as moving, and occasionally influencing the saints, but 
as dwelling in them as his temple, his proper abode, and everlasting dwelling 
place, 1 Cor. iii. 16, 2 Cor. vi. 16, John xiv. 16, 17. And he is represented as 
being there so united to the faculties of the soul, that he becomes there a prin 
ciple or spring of new nature and life. 

So the saints are said to live by Christ living in them, Gal. ii. 20. Christ 
by his Spirit not only is in them, but lives in them ; and so that they live by 
his life ; so is his Spirit united to them, as a principle of life in them ; they do 
not only drink living water, but this " living water becomes a well or fountain 
of water," in the soul, " springing up into spiritual and everlasting life," John iv. 
14, and thus becomes a principle of life in them. This living water, this evan 
gelist himself explains to intend the Spirit of God, chap. vii. 38, 39. The light 
of the Sun of righteousness does riot only shine upon them, but is so communi 
cated to them that they shine also, and become little images of that Sun 
which shines upon them ; the sap of the true vine is not only conveyed into 
them, as the sap of a tree may be conveyed into a vessel, but is conveyed as sap 
is from a tree into one of its living branches, where it becomes a principle of 
life. The Spirit of God being thus communicated and united to the saints, they 
are from thence properly denominated from it, and are called spiritual. 

On the other hand, though the Spirit of God may many ways influence 
natural men ; yet because it is not thus communicated to them, as an indwell 
ing principle, they do not derive any denomination or character from it : for, 
there being no union, it is not their own. The light may shine upon a body 
that is very dark or black ; and though that body be the subject of the light, yet, 
because the light becomes no principle of light in it, so as to cause the body to 
shine, hence that body does not properly receive its denomination from it, so as 
to be called a lightsome body. So the Spirit of God acting upon the soul only, 
without communicating itself to be an active principle in it, cannot denominate 
it spiritual. A body that continues black, may be said not to have light, though 
the light shines upon it : so natural men are said " not to have the Spirit," Jude 
19, sensual or natural (as the word is elsewhere rendered), having not the Spirit. 

2. Another reason why the saints and their virtues are called spiritual (which 
is the principal thing) is, that the Spirit of God, dwelling as a vital principle 
in their souls, there produces those effects wherein he exerts and communicatea 
himself in his own proper nature. Holiness is the nature of the Spirit of God, 
therefore he is called in Scripture the Holy Ghost. Holiness, which is as it were 
the beauty and sweetness of the divine nature, is as much the proper nature of 
the Holy Spirit, as heat is the nature of fire, or sweetness was the nature of that 
holy anointing oil, which was the principal type of the Holy Ghost in the Mo 
saic dispensation ; yea, I may rather say, that holiness is as much the proper 
nature of the Holy Ghost, as sweetness was the nature of the sweet odor of 
that ointment. The Spirit of God so dwells in the hearts of the saints, that he 
there, as a seed or spring of life, exerts and communicates himself, in this his 
sweet and divine nature, making the soul a partaken of God s beauty and 
Christ s joy, so that the saint has truly fellowship with the Father, and with his 
Son Jesus Christ, in thus having the communion or participation of the Holy 
Ghost. The grace which is in the hearts of the saints, is of the same nature 
with the divine holiness, as much as it is possible for that holiness to be, which 
is infinitely less in degree ; as the brightness that is in a diamond which the sun 
shines upon, is of the same nature with the brightness of the sun, but only that 
it is as nothing to it in degree. Therefore Christ says, John iii. 6, " That which 


is born of the Spirit, is spirit ;" i. e., the grace that is begotten in the hearts of 
the saints, is something of the same nature with that Spirit, and so is properly 
called a spiritual nature ; after the same manner as that which is born of the 
flesh is flesh, or that which is born of corrupt nature is corrupt nature. 

But the Spirit of God never influences the minds of natural men after this 
manner. Though he may influence them many ways, yet he never, in any of 
his influences, communicates himself to them in his own proper nature. Indeed 
he never acts disagreeably to his nature, either on the minds of saints or sinners : 
but the Spirit of God may act upon men agreeably to his own nature, and not 
exert his proper nature in the acts and exercises of their minds : the Spirit of 
God may act so, that his actions may be agreeable to his nature, and yet may 
not at all communicate himself in his proper nature, in the effect of that action. 
Thus, for instance, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and 
there was nothing disagreeable to his nature in that action ; but yet he did not 
at all communicate himself in that action, there was nothing of the proper nature 
of the Holy Spirit in that motion of the waters. And so he may act upon the 
minds of men many ways, and not communicate himself any more than w r hen 
he acts on inamimate things. 

Thus not only the manner of the relation of the Spirit, who is the operator, to 
the subject of his operations, is different ; as the Spirit operates in the saints, as 
dwelling in them, as an abiding principle of action, whereas he doth not so operate 
upon sinners ; but the influence and operation itself is different, and the effect 
wrought exceeding different. So that not only the persons are called spiritual. 
as having the Spirit of God dwelling in them ; but those qualifications, affections, 
and experiences, that are wrought in them by the Spirit, are also spiritual, and 
therein differ vastly in their nature and kind from all that a natural man is or 
can be the subject of, while he remains in a natural state ; and also from all that 
men or devils can be the authors of. It is a spiritual work in this high sense ; 
and therefore above all other works is peculiar to the Spirit of God. There is 
no work so high and excellent ; for there is no work wherein God doth so much 
communicate himself, and wherein the mere creature hath, in so high a sense, 
a participation of God ; so that it is expressed in Scripture by the saints " be 
ing made partakers of the divine nature," 2 Pet. i. 4, and " having God dwell 
ing in them, and they in God," 1 John iv. 12, 15, 16, and chap. iii. 21 ;" and 
having Christ in them," John xvii. 21, Rom. viii. 10; " being the temples of 
the living God," 2 Cor. vi. 16 ; " living by Christ s life," Gal. ii. 20 ; " being made 
partakers of God s holiness," Heb. xii. 10 ; " having Christ s love dwelling in 
them," John xvii. 26 ; " having his joy fulfilled in them," John xvii. 13; " seeing 
light in God s light, and being made to drink of the river of God s pleasures," 
Psal. xxxvi. 8, 9 ; " having fellowship with God, or communicating and partak 
ing with him (as the word signifies)," 1 John i. 3. Not that the saints are made 
partakers of the essence of God, and so are godded with God, and christed with 
Christ, according to the abominable arid blasphemous language and notions of 
some heretics : but, to use the Scripture phrase, they are made partakers of 
God s fulness, Eph. iii. 17, 18, 19, John i. 16, that is, of God s spiritual beauty 
and happiness, according to the measure and capacity of a creature ; for so it is 
evident the word fulness signifies in Scripture language. Grace in the hearts 
of the saints, being therefore the most glorious work of God, wherein he com 
municates of the goodness of his nature, it is doubtless his peculiar work, and in 
an eminent manner above the power of all creatures. And the influences of 
the Spirit of God in this, being thus peculiar to God, and being those wherein 
God does, in so high a manner, communicate himself, and make the creature 


partaker of the divine nature (the Spirit of God communicating itself in its own 
proper nature) ; this is what I mean by those influences that are divine, when I 
say that " truly gracious affections do arise from those influences that are spirit 
ual and divine. 

The true saints only have that which is spiritual ; others have nothing 
which is divine, in the sense that has been spoken of. They not only have not 
these communications of the Spirit of God in so high a degree as the saints, but 
have nothing of that nature or kind. For the Apostle James tells us, that 
natural men have not the Spirit ; and Christ teaches the necessity of a new 
birth, or of being born of the Spirit, from this, that he that is born of the flesh, 
has only flesh, and no spirit, John iii. 6. They have not the Spirit of God 
dwelling in them in any degree ; for the apostle teaches, that all who have the 
Spirit of God dwelling in them, are some of his, Rom. viii. 9 11. And a hav 
ing the Spirit of God is spoken of as a certain sign that persons shall have the 
eternal inheritance ; for it is spoken of as the earnest of it, 2 Cor. i. 22, and v. 
5, Eph. i. 14 ; and a having any thing of the Spirit is mentioned as a sure 
sign of being in Christ, 1 John iv. 13 : " Hereby know we that we dwell in 
him, because he hath given us of his Spirit." Ungodly men not only have not 
so much of the divine nature as the saints, but they are not partakers of it ; 
which implies that they have nothing of it : for a being partaker of the divine 
nature is spoken of as the peculiar privilege of the true saints, 2 Pet. i. 4. Un 
godly men are not " partakers of God s holiness," Heb. xii. 10. A natural 
man has no experience of any of those things that are spiritual : the apostle 
teaches us, that he is so far from it, that he knows nothing about them, he is a 
perfect stranger to them, the talk about such things is all foolishness and non 
sense to him, he knows not what it means ; 1 Cor. ii. 14, " The natural man 
receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ; for they are foolishness to him : 
neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." And to 
the like purpose Christ teaches us that the world is wholly unacquainted with 
the Spirit of God, John xiv. 17 : " Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world 
cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him." And it is fur 
ther evident, that natural men have nothing in them of the same nature with 
the true grace of the saints, because the apostle teaches us, that those of them 
who go farthest in religion have no charity, or true Christian love, 1 Cor. chap, 
xiii. So Christ elsewhere reproves the Pharisees, those high pretenders to reli 
gion, that they ; had not the love of God in them," John v. 42. Hence natu 
ral men have no communion or fellowship with Christ, or participation with 
him (as these words signify), for this is spoken of as the peculiar privilege of 
the saints, 1 John i. 3, together with ver. 6, 7, and 1 Cor. i. 8, 9. And the 
Scripture speaks of the actual being of a gracious principle in the soul, though 
in its first beginning, as a seed there planted, as inconsistent with a man s being 
a sinner, 1 John iii. 9. And natural men are represented in Scripture, as hav 
ing no spiritual light, no spiritual life, and no spiritual being ; and therefore 
conversion is often compared to opening the eyes of the blind, raising the dead, 
and a work of creation (wherein creatures are made entirely new), and becom 
ing new-born children. 

From these things it is evident, that those gracious influences which the 
saints are subjects of, and the effects of God s Spirit which they experience, are 
entirely above nature, altogether of a different kind from any thing that men 
find within themselves by nature, or only in the exercise of natural principles ; 
and are things which no improvement of those qualifications, or principles that 
are natural, no advancing or exalting them to higher degrees, and nc kind of 


composition of them, will ever bring men to ; because tbey not only differ from 
what is natural, and from every thing that natural men experience, in degree 
and circumstances, but also in kind ; and are of a nature vastly more excellent. 
And this is what I mean, by supernatural, when I say that gracious affections 
are from those influences that are supernatural. 

From hence it follows, that in those gracious exercises and aifections which 
are wrought in the minds of the saints, through the saving influences of the 
Spirit of God, there is a new inward perception or sensation of their minds, en 
tirely different in its nature and kind, from any thing that ever their minds were 
the subjects of before they were sanctified. For doubtless if God by his mighty 
power produces something that is new, not only in degree and circumstances, 
but in its whole nature, and that which could be produced by no exalting, vary 
ing, or compounding of what was there before, or by adding any thing of the 
like kind ; I say, if God produces something thus new in a mind, that is a per 
ceiving, thinking, conscious thing ; then doubtless something entirely new is 
felt, or perceived, or thought ; or, which is the same thing, there is some new 
sensation or perception of the mind, which is entirely of a new sort, and which 
could be produced by no exalting, varying, or compounding of that kind of per 
ceptions or sensations which the mind had before ; or there is what some meta 
physicians call a new simple idea. If grace be, in the sense above described, 
an entirely new kind of principle, then the exercises of it are also entirely a 
new kind of exercises. And if there be in the soul a new sort of exercises 
which it is conscious of, which the soul knew nothing of before, and which no 
improvement, composition, or management of what it was before conscious or 
sensible of, could produce, or any thing like it ; then it follows that the mind 
has an entirely new kind of perception or sensation ; and here is, as it were, a 
new spiritual sense that the mind has, or a principle of a new kind of percep 
tion or spiritual sensation, which is in its whole nature different from any former 
kinds of sensation of the mind, as tasting is diverse from any of the other senses; 
and something is perceived by a true saint, in the exercise of this new sense 
of mind, in spiritual and divine things, as entirely diverse from any thing that 
is perceived in them, by natural men, as the sweet taste of honey is diverse 
from the ideas men have of honey by only looking on it, and feeling of it. So 
that the spiritual perceptions which a sanctified and spiritual person has, are 
not only diverse from all that natural men have after the manner that the ideas 
or perceptions of the same sense may differ one from another, but rather as the 
ideas and sensations of different senses do differ. Hence the work of the Spirit 
of God in regeneration is often in Scripture compared to the giving a new sense, 
giving eyes to see, and ears to hear, unstopping the ears of the deaf, and open 
ing the eyes of them that were born blind, and turning from darkness unto 
light. Arid because this spiritual sense is immensely the most noble and excel 
lent, and that without which all other principles of perception, and all our 
faculties are useless and vain ; therefore the giving this new sense, with the 
blessed fruits and effects of it in the soul, is compared to a raising the dead, and 
to a new creation. 

This new spiritual sense, and the new dispositions that attend it, are no new 
faculties, but are new principles of nature. I use the word principles for want 
of a word of a more determinate signification. By a principle of nature in this 
place, I mean that foundation which is laid in nature, either old or new, for any 
particular manner or kind of exercise of the faculties of the soul ; or a natural 
habit or foundation for action, giving a personal ability and disposition to exert 
the faculties in exercises of such a certain kind j so that to exert the faculties 


in that kind of exercises may be said to be his nature. So this new spiritual 
sense is not a new faculty of understanding, but it is a new foundation laid in 
the nature of the soul, for a new kind of exercises of the same faculty of under 
standing. So that new holy disposition of heart that attends this new sense is 
not a new faculty of will, but a foundation laid in the nature of the soul, for a 
new kind of exercises of the same faculty of will. 

The Spirit of God, in all his operations upon the minds of natural men, only 
moves, impresses, assists, improves, or some way acts upon natural principles ; 
but gives no new spiritual principle. Thus when the Spirit of God gives a 
natural man visions, as he did Balaam, he only impresses a natural principle, 
viz., the sense of seeing, immediately exciting ideas of that sense ; but he gives 
no new sense ; neither is there any thing supernatural, spiritual, or divine in it. 
So if the Spirit of God impresses on a man s imagination, either in a dream, or 
when he is awake, any outward ideas of any of the senses, either voices, or 
shapes and colors, it is only exciting ideas of the same kind that he has by nat 
ural principles and senses. So if God reveals to any natural man any se 
cret fact : as, for instance, something that he shall hereafter see or hear; this 
is not infusing or exercising any new spiritual principle, or giving the ideas of 
any new spiritual sense ; it is only impressing, in an extraordinary manner, the 
ideas that will hereafter be received by sight and hearing. So in the more or 
dinary influences of the Spirit of God on the hearts of sinners, he only assists 
natural principles to do the same work to a greater degree,. which they do of 
themselves by nature. Thus the Spirit of God by his common influences may 
assist men s natural ingenuity, as he assisted Bezaleel and Aholiab in the cu 
rious works of the tabernacle : so he may assist men s natural abilities in politi 
cal affairs, and improve their courage and other natural qualifications, as he is 
said to have put his spirit on the seventy elders, and on Saul, so as to give him 
another heart : so God may greatly assist natural men s reason, in their reason 
ing about secular things, or about the doctrines of religion, and may greatly 
advance the clearness of their apprehensions and notions of things of religion in 
many respects, without giving any spiritual sense. So in those awakenings 
and convictions that natural men may have, God only assists conscience, which 
is a natural principle, to do that work in a further degree, which it naturally 
does. Conscience naturally gives men an apprehension of right and wrong, 
and suggests the relation there is between right and wrong, and a retribution : 
the Spirit of God assists men s consciences to do this in a greater degree, helps 
conscience against the stupifying influence of worldly objects and their lusts. 
And so many other ways might be mentioned wherein the Spirit acts upon, as 
sists, and moves natural principles ; but after all it is no more than nature moved, 
acted and improved ; here is nothing supernatural and divine. But the Spirit of 
God in his spiritual influences on the hearts of his saints, operates by infusing or 
exercising new, divine, and supernatural principles ; principles which are indeed 
a new and spiritual nature, and principles vastly more noble and excellent than 
all that is in natural men. 

From what has been said it follows, that all spiritual and gracious affections 
are attended with and do arise from some apprehension, idea, or sensation of mind, 
which is in its whole nature different, yea, exceeding different, from all that 
is, or can be in the mind of a natural man ; and which the natural man discerns 
nothing of, and has no manner of idea of (agreeable to 1 Cor. ii. 14), and conceives 
of no more than a man without the sense of tasting can conceive of the sweet 
taste of honey, or a man without the sense of hearing can conceive of the melody 
of a tune, or a man born blind can have a notion of the beauty of the rainbow 


But here two things must be observed, in order to the right understanding 
of this. 

1. On the one hand it must be observed, that not every thing which in any 
respect appertains to spiritual affections, is new and entirely different from what 
natural men can conceive of, and do experience ; some things are common 
to gracious affections with other affections ; many circumstances, appendages 
and effects are common. Thus a saint s love to God has a great many things 
appertaining to it, which are common with a man s natural love to a near rela 
tion ; love to God makes a man have desires of the honor of God, and a desire 
to please him : so does a natural man s love to his friend make him desire hi? 
honor, and desire to please him ; love to God causes a man to delight in the 
thoughts of God, and to delight in the presence of God, and to desire conformi 
ty to God, and the enjoyment of God ; and so it is with a man s love to his 
friend ; and many other things might be mentioned which are common to both. 
But yet that idea which the saint has of the loveliness of God, and that sensation, 
and that kind of delight he has in that view, which is as it were the marrow 
and quintessence of his love, is peculiar, and entirely diverse from any thing 
that a natural man has, or can have any notion of. And even in those things 
that seem to be common, there is something peculiar ; both spiritual and nat 
ural love cause desires after the object beloved ; but they be not the same sort of 
desires : there is a sensation of soul in the spiritual desires of one that loves God, 
which is entirely different from all natural desires : both spiritual love and nat 
ural love are attended with delight in the object beloved ; but the sensations of 
delight are not the same, but entirely and exceedingly diverse. Natural men 
may have conceptions of many things about spiritual affections ; but there is 
something in them which is as it were the nucleus, or kernel of them, that they 
have no more conception of, than one born blind, has of colors. 

It may be clearly illustrated by this : we will suppose two men ; one is 
born without the sense of tasting, the other has it ; the latter loves honey, and 
is greatly delighted in it, because he knows the sweet taste of it ; the other 
loves certain sounds and colors ; the love of each has many things that apper 
tain to it, which is common ; it causes both to desire and delight in the object 
beloved, and causes grief when it is absent, &c., but yet that idea or sensation 
which he who knows the taste of honey has of its excellency and sweetness, 
that is the foundation of his love, is entirely different from any thing the other 
has or can have ; and that delight which he has in honey is wholly diverse 
from any thing that the other can conceive of, though they both delight in their 
beloved objects. So both these persons may in some respects love the same 
object : the one may love a delicious kind of fruit, which is beautiful to the 
eye, and of a delicious taste ; not only because he has seen its pleasant colors, 
but knows its sweet taste ; the other, perfectly ignorant of this, loves it only for 
its beautiful colors : there are many things seen, in some respect, to be com 
mon to both ; both love, both desire, and both delight ; but the love and desire, 
and delight of the one, is altogether diverse from that of the other. The differ 
ence between the love of a natural man and a spiritual man is like to this ; but 
only it must be observed, that in one respect it is vastly greater, viz., that the 
kinds of excellency which are perceived in spiritual objects, by these different 
kinds of persons, are in themselves vastly more diverse than the different kinds 
of excellency perceived in delicious fruit, by a tasting and a tasteless man ; and 
in another respect it may not be so great, viz., as the spiritual man may have 
a spiritual sense or taste, to perceive that divine and most peculiar excellency 
but in small beginnings, and in a very imperfect degree. 

VOL. III. 10 


2. On the other nand, it must be sbserved that a natural man may ha\e 
those religious apprehensions and affections, which may be in many respects 
very new and surprising to him, and what before he did not conceive of ; and 
yet what he experiences be nothing like the exercises of a principle of new 
nature, or the sensations of a new spiritual sense ; his affections may be very 
new, by extraordinarily moving natural principles in a very new degree, and 
with a great many new circumstances, and a new co-operation of natural affec 
tions, and a new composition of ideas ; this may be from some extraordinary 
powerful influence of Satan, and some great delusion ; but there is nothing but 
nature extraordinarily acted. As if a poor man that had always dwelt in a 
cottage and, had never looked beyond the obscure village where he was bom, 
should in a jest be taken to a magnificent city and prince s court, and there 
arrayed in princely robes, and set on the throne, with the crown royal on his 
head, peers and nobles bowing before him, and should be made to believe that 
he was now a glorious monarch ; the ideas he would have, and the affections 
he would experience, would in many respects be very new, and such as he had. 
no imagination of before ; but all this is no more than extraordinarily raising 
and exciting natural principles, and newly exalting, varying, and compounding 
such sort of ideas, as he has by nature ; here is nothing like giving him a new 

Upon the whole, I think it is clearly manifest, that all truly gracious affec 
tions do arise from special and peculiar influences of the Spirit, working that 
sensible effect or sensation in the souls of the saints, which are entirely different 
from all that is possible a natural man should experience, not only different in 
degree and circumstances, but different in its whole nature ; so that a natural 
man not only cannot experience that which is individually the same, but can 
not experience any thing but what is exceeding diverse, and immensely below 
it, in its kind ; and that which the power ,f men or devils is not sufficient to 
produce the like of, or any thing of the same nature. 

I have insisted largely on this matter, because it is of great importance and 
use evidently to discover and demonstrate the delusions of Satan, in many kinds 
of false religious affections, which multitudes are deluded by, and probably have 
been in all ages of the Christian church ; and to settle and determine many 
articles of doctrine, concerning the operations of the Spirit of God, and the na 
ture of true grace. 

Now, therefore, to apply these things to the purpose of this discourse. 

From hence it appears, that impressions which some have made on their 
imagination, or the imaginary ideas which they have of God or Christ, or hea 
ven, or any thing appertaining to religion, have nothing in them that is spiritual, 
or of the nature of true grace. Though such things may attend what is spirit 
ual, and be mixed with it, yet in themselves they have nothing that is spiritual, 
nor are they any part of gracious experience. 

Here, for the sake of common people, I will explain what is intended by 
impressions on the imagination and imaginary ideas. The imagination is that 
power of the mind whereby it can have a conception, or idea of things of an 
external or outward nature (that is, of such sort of things as are the objects of 
the outward senses) when those things are not present, and be not perceived by 
the senses. It is called imagination from the word image ; because thereby a 
person can have an image of some external thing in his mind, when that thing 
is not present in reality, nor any thing like it. All such things as we perceive 
oy our five external senses, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling, are 
external things : and when a person has an idea or image of any of these sorts 


of things in his mind, when they are not there, and whe-i. ne does not really 
see, hear, smell, taste, nor feel them ; that is to have an imagination of them, 
and these ideas are imaginary ideas : and when such kinds of ideas are strongly 
impressed upon the mind, and the image of them in the mind is very lively, 
almost as if one saw them, or heard them, &c., that is called an impression on 
the imagination. Thus colors and shapes, and a form of countenance, they are 
outward things ; because they are that sort of things which are the objects of 
the outward sense of seeing ; and therefore when any person has in his mind a 
lively idea of any shape, or color, or form of countenance ; that is to have an 
imagination of those things. So if he has an idea, of such sort of light or dark 
ness, as he perceives by the sense of seeing ; that is to have an idea of outward 
light, and so is an imagination. So if he has an idea of any marks made on 
paper, suppose letters and words written in a book ; that is to have an external 
and imaginary idea of such kind of things as we sometimes perceive by our 
bodily eyes. And when we have the ideas of that kind of things which we 
perceive by any of the other senses, as of any sounds or voices, or words spoken ; 
this is only to have ideas of outward things, viz., of such kind of things as are 
perceived by the external sense of hearing, and so that also is imagination : 
and when these ideas are livelily impressed, almost as if they were really heard 
with the ears, this is to have an impression on the imagination. And so I 
might go on, and instance in the ideas of things appertaining to the other three 
senses of smelling, tasting, and feeling. 

Many who have had such things have very ignorantly supposed them to be 
of the nature of spiritual discoveries. They have had lively ideas of some 
external shape, and beautiful form of countenance ; and this they call spiritually 
seeing Christ. Some have had impressed upon them ideas of a great outward 
light ; and this they call a spiritual discovery of God s or Christ s glory. Some 
have had ideas of Christ s hanging on the cross, and his blood running from his 
wounds ; and this they call a spiritual sight of Christ crucified, and the way of 
salvation by his blood. Some have seen him with his arms open ready to 
embrace them ; and this they call a discovery of the sufficiency of Christ s grace 
and love. Some have had lively ideas of heaven, and of Christ on his throne 
there, and shining ranks of saints and angels ; and this they call seeing heaven 
opened to them. Some from time to time have had a lively idea of a person of 
a beautiful countenance smiling upon them ; and this they call a spiritual dis 
covery of the love of Christ to their souls, and tasting the love of Christ. And 
they look upon it a sufficient evidence that these things are spiritual discoveries, 
and that they see them spiritually, because they say they do not see these things 
with their bodily eyes, but in their hearts ; for they can see them when their 
eyes are shut. And in like manner, the imaginations of some have been im 
pressed with ideas of the sense of hearing; they have had ideas of words, as if 
they were spoken to them, sometimes they are the words of Scripture, and 
sometimes other words : they have had ideas of Christ s speaking comfortable 
words to them. These things they have called having the inward call of Christ, 
hearing the voice of Christ spiritually in their hearts, having the witness of the 
Spirit, and the inward testimony of the love of Christ, &c. 

The common and less considerate and understanding sort of people, are the 
more easily led into apprehensions that these things are spiritual things, because 
spiritual things being invisible, and not things that can be pointed forth with 
the finger, w r e are forced to use figurative expressions in speaking of them, and 
to borrow names from external and sensible objects to signify them by. Thus 
we call a clear apprehension of things spiritual by the name of light ; and a 


having such an apprehension of such or such things, by the name of seeing 
such things ; and the conviction of the judgment, and the persuasion of the will, 
by the word of Christ in the gospel, we signify by spiritually hearing the call 
of Christ : and the Scripture itself abounds with such like figurative expressions. 
Persons hearing these often used, and having pressed upon them the necessity 
of having their eyes opened, and having a discovery of spiritual things, and 
seeing Christ in his glory, and having the inward call, and the like, they igno- 
rantly look and wait for some such external discoveries, and imaginary views 
as have been spoken of; and when they have them are confident, that now their 
eyes are opened, now Christ has discovered himself to them, and they are his 
children ; and hence are exceedingly affected and elevated with their deliver 
ance and happiness, and many kinds of affections are at once set in a violent 
motion in them. 

But it is exceedingly apparent that such ideas have nothing in them which 
is spiritual and divine, in the sense wherein it has been demonstrated that all 
gracious experiences are spiritual and divine. These external ideas are in no 
wise of such a sort, that they are entirely, and in their whole nature diverse 
from all that men have by nature, perfectly different from, and vastly above 
any sensation which it is possible a man should have by any natural sense or 
principle, so that in order to have them, a man must have a new spiritual and 
divine sense given him, in order to have any sensations of that sort : so far from 
this, that they are ideas of the same sort which we have by the external senses, 
that are some of the inferior powers of the human nature ; they are merely ideas 
of external objects, or ideas of that nature, of the same outward, sensitive kind : 
the same sort of sensations of mind (differing not in degree, but only in cir 
cumstances) that we have by those natural principles which are common to us 
with the beasts, viz., the five external senses. This is a low, miserable notion 
of spiritual sense, to suppose that it is only a conceiving or imagining that sort 
of ideas which we have by our animal senses, which senses the beasts have in 
as great perfection as we ; it is, as it were, a turning Christ, or the divine 
nature in the soul, into a mere animal. There is nothing wanting in the soul, 
as it is by nature, to render it capable of being the subject of all these external 
ideas, without any new principles. A natural man is capable of having an 
idea, and a lively idea of shapes, and colors, and sounds, when they are absent, 
and as capable as a regenerate man is : so there is nothing supernatural in 
them. And it is known by abundant experience, that it is not the advanc 
ing or perfecting human nature, which makes persons more capable of having 
such lively and strong imaginary ideas, but that on the contrary, the weakness 
of body and mind, and distempers of body, make persons abundantly more 
susceptive of such impressions.* 

As to a truly spiritual sensation, not only is the manner of its coming into 
the mind extraordinary, but the sensation itself is totally diverse from all that 
men have, or can have, in a state of nature, as has been shown. But as to 
these external ideas, though the way of their coming into the mind is some 
times unusual, yet the ideas in themselves are not the better for that ; they are 
still of no different sort from what men have by their senses; they are of no 
higher kind, nor a whit better. For instance, the external idea a man has now 

* " Conceits and whimsies abound most in men of weak reason ; children, and such as are cracked 
in their understanding, have most of them ; strength of reason banishes them, as the sun does mists and 
vapors. But now the more rational any gracious person is, by so much more is he fixed and sealed, and 
satisfied in the grounds of religion ; yea, there is the highest and purest reason in religion ; and when 
this change is wrought upon me n, it is carried on in a rational way. Isa. i. 18, John xix. 9." FlaveVs 
Prtparationfor Sufferings, Chap. vi. 


of Christ hanging on the cross, and shedding his blood, is no better in itself, than 
the external idea that the Jews his enemies had, who stood round his cross, and 
saw this with their bodily eyes. The imaginary idea which men have now of 
an external brightness and glory of God, is no better than the idea the wicked 
congregation in the wilderness had of the external glory of the Lord at Mount 
Sinai, when they saw it with their bodily eyes ; or any better than that idea 
which millions of cursed reprobates will have of the external glory of Christ at 
the day of judgment, who shall see, and have a very lively idea often thousand 
times greater external glory of Christ, than ever yet was conceived in any man s 
imagination :* yea, the image of Christ, which men conceive in their imagina 
tions, is not in its own nature of any superior kind to the idea the Papists con 
ceive of Christ, by the beautiful and affecting images of him which they see in 
their churches (though the way of their receiving the idea may not be so bad) ; 
nor are the affections they have, if built primarily on such imaginations, any better 
than the affections raised in the ignorant people, by the sight of those images, 
which oftentimes are very great ; especially when these images, through the craft 
of the priests, are made to move, and speak, and weep, and the like.f Merely the 
way of persons receiving these imaginary ideas, does not alter the nature of the 
ideas themselves that are received ; let them be received in what way they will, 
they are still but external ideas, or ideas of outward appearances, and so are 
not spiritual. Yea, if men should actually receive such external ideas by the 
immediate power of the most high God upon their minds, they would not be 
spiritual, they would be no more than a common work of the Spirit of God ; 
as is evident in fact, in the instance of Balaam, who had impressed on his mind, 
by God himself, a clear and lively outward representation or idea of Jesus Christ, 
as " the Star rising out of Jacob, when he heard the words of God, and knew 
the knowledge of the Most High, and saw the vision of the Almighty, falling 
into a trance," Numb. xxiv. 16, 17, but yet had no manner of spiritual discov 
ery of Christ ; that Day Star never spiritually rose in his heart, he being but a 
natural man. 

And as these external ideas have nothing divine or spiritual in their nature 
and nothing but what natural men, without any new r principles, are capable of; 
so there is nothing in their nature which requires that peculiar, inimitable and 
unparalleled exercise of the glorious power of God, in order to their production, 
which it has been shown there is in the production of true grace. There appears 
to be nothing in their nature above the power of the devil. It is certainly not 
above the power of Satan to suggest thoughts to men ; because otherwise he 
could not tempt them to sin. And if he can suggest any thoughts or ideas at 
all, doubtless imaginary ones, or ideas of things external, are not above his pow- 

* " If any man should see, and behold Christ really and immediately, this is not. the saving knowledge 
of him. I know the saints do know Christ as if immediately present ; they are not strangers by their 
distance : if others have seen him more immediately, I will not dispute it. But if they have seen the 
Lord Jesus as immediately as if here on earth, yet Capernaum saw him so ; nay, some of them were 
disciples for a time, and followed him, John vi. And yet the Lord was hid from their eyes. Nay, all 
the world shall see him in his glory, which shall amaze them ; and yet this is far short of having the 
saving knowledge of him, which the Lord doth communicate to the elect. So that though you see the 
Lord so really, as that you become familiar with him, yet, Luke xiii. 26 : Lord have we not eat and 
rtrank, &c. and so perish." Shepard s Par. of the Ten Virgins, Part I. p. 197, 198. 

t " Satan is transformed into an angel of light : and hence we have heard that some have heard 
voices ; some have seen the very blood of Christ dropping on them, and his wounds in his side : some 
have seen a great, light shining in the chamber ; some have been wonderfully affected with their dreams ; 
some in great distress have had inward witness, Thy sins are forgiven ; and hence such liberty and 
oy, that they are ready to leap up and down the chamber. O adulterous generation ! this is natural and 
usual with men, they would fain see Jesus, and have him present to give them peace ; and hence Papistr 
have his images. Wo to them that have no other manifested Christ, but such a one." Shepard s Para 
ble of the Ten Virgins, Part I. p. 198. 


or ;* for the external ideas men have are the lowest sort of ideas. These ideas 
may be raised only by impressions made on the body, by moving the animal 
spirits, and impressing the brain. Abundant experience does certainly show, 
that alterations in the body will excite imaginary or external ideas in the mind ; 
as often, in the case of a high fever, melancholy, &c. These external ideas are 
as much below the more intellectual exercises of the soul, as the body is a less 
noble part of man than the soul. 

And there is not only nothing in the nature of these external ideas or imagi 
nations of outward appearances, from whence we can infer that they are above 
the power of the devil ; but it is certain also that the devil can excite, and often 
hath excited such ideas. They were external ideas which he excited in the 
dreams and visions of the false prophets of old, who were under the influence of 
lying spirits, that we often read of in Scripture, as Deut. xiii. i., 1 Kings xxii. 
22, Isa. xxviii. 7, Ezek. xiii. 7. And they were external ideas that he often 
excited in the minds of the heathen priests, magicians and sorcerers, in their 
visions and ecstasies, and they were external ideas that he excited in the mind 
of the man Christ Jesus, when he showed him all the kingdoms of the world, 
with the glory of them, when those kingdoms were not really in sight. 

And if Satan or any created being, has power to impress the mind with 
outward representations, then no particular sort of outward representations can 
be any evidence of a divine power. Almighty power is no more requisite to 
represent the shape of man to the imagination, than the shape of anything else : 
there is no higher kind of power necessary to form in the brain one bodily shape 
or color than another : it needs a no more glorious power to represent the form 
of the body of a man, than the form of a chip or block ; though it be of a very 
beautiful human body, with a sweet smile in his countenance, or arms open, or 
blood running from the hands, feet and side : that sort of power which can rep 
resent black or darkness to the imagination, can also represent white and 
shining brightness : the power and skill which can well and exactly paint a 
straw, or a stick of wood, on a piece of paper or canvass ; the same in kind, only 
perhaps further improved, will be sufficient to paint the body of a man, with 
great beauty and in royal majesty, or a magnificent city, paved with gold, full 
of brightness, and a glorious throne, &c. So it is no more than the same sort 
of power that is requisite to paint one as the other of these on the brain. The same 
sort of power that can put ink upon paper, can put on leaf gold. So that it is evi 
dent to a demonstration, if we suppose it to be in the devil s power to make any 
sort of external representation at all on the fancy (as without doubt it is, and 
never any one questioned it who believed there was a devil, that had any agency 
with mankind) : I say, if so, it is demonstrably evident, that a created power 
may extend to all kinds of external appearances and ideas in the mind. From 
hence it again clearly appears, that no such things have any thing in them that 
is spiritual, supernatural, and divine, in the sense in which it has been proved 
that all truly gracious experiences have. And though external ideas, through 
man s make and frame, do ordinarily in some degree attend spiritual experiences, 
yet these ideas are no part of their spiritual experience, any more than the motion 
of the blood, and beating of the pulse, that attend experiences, are a part of 
spiritual experience. And though undoubtedly, through men s infirmity in the 
present state, and especially through the weak constitution of some persons, 

* " Consider how difficult, yea and impossible it is to determine that such a voice, vision, or revela 
tion is of God, and that Satan cannot feign or counterfeit it: seeing he hath left no certain marks by 
which we may distinguish one spirit from another." FlaveTs Causes and Cures of Mental Terrors,. 
Cause 14. 


gracious affections which are very strong, do excite lively ideas in the imagina 
tion ; yet it is also undoubted, that when persons affections are founded on 
imaginations, which is often the case, those affections are merely natural and 
common, because they are built on a foundation that is not spiritual ; and so are 
entirely different from gracious affections, which, as has been proved, do ever 
more arise from those operations that are spiritual and divine. 

These imaginations do oftentimes raise the carnal affections of men to an 
exceeding great height :* and no wonder, when the subjects of them have an 
ignorant, but undoubting persuasion, that they are divine manifestations, which 
the great Jehovah immediately makes to their souls, therein giving them testi 
monies in an extraordinary manner, of his high and peculiar favor. 

Again, it is evident from what has been observed and proved of the manner 
in which gracious operations and effects in the heart are spiritual, supernatural 
and divine, that the immediate suggesting of the words of Scripture to the mind 
has nothing in it which is spiritual. 

I have had occasion to say something of this already ; and what has been 
said may be sufficient to evince it ; but if the reader bears in mind what has 
been said concerning the nature of spiritual influences and effects, it will be 
more abundantly manifest that this is no spiritual effect. For I suppose there is 

* There is a remarkable passage of Mr. John Smith, in his discourse on the shortness of a Pharisaic 
righteousness, p. 370, 371, of his select discourses, describing that sort of religion which is built on such 
a foundation as I am here speaking of. I cannot forbear transcribing the whole of it. Speaking of a sort 
of Christians, whose life is nothing but a strong energy of fancy, he says : " Lest their religion might too 
grossly discover itself to be nothing else but a piece of art, there may be sometimes such extraordinary 
motions stirred up within them, which may prevent all their own thoughts, that they may seem to be a 
true operation of the divine life ; when yet all this is nothing else but the energy of their own self-love, 
touched with some fleshly apprehensions of divine things, and excited by them. There are such things 
in our Christian religion, when a carnal, unhallowed mind takes the chair and gets the expounding of 
them, may seem very delicious to the fleshly appetites of men ; some doctrines and notions of free grace 
and justification, the magnificent titles of sons of God and heirs of heaven, ever flowing streams of joy 
and pleasure that blessed souls shall swim in to all eternity, a glorious paradise in the world to come, 
always springing up with well scented and fragrant beauties, a new Jerusalem paved with gold, and be 
spangled with stars, comprehending in its vast circuit such numberless varieties, that a busy curiosity 
may spend itself about to all eternity. I doubt not but that sometimes the most fleshly and earthly men, that 
fly in their ambition to the pomp of this world, moy be so ravished with the conceits of such things as 
these, that they may seem to be made partakers of the powers of the world to come. I doubt, not but that 
they might be much exalted with them, as the souls of crazed or distracted persons seem to be sometimes, 
when their fancies play with those quick and nimble spirits, which a distempered frame of body, and 
unnatural heat, in their heads, beget within them. Thus may these blazing comets rise up above the 
moon, and climb higher than the sun ; which yet, because they have no solid consistence of their own, 
and are of abase and earthly alloy, will soon vanish and fall down again, being only borne up by an ex 
ternal force. They may seem to themselves to have attained higher than those noble Christians that are 
gently moved by the natural force of true goodness : they seem to be plemores Deo (i. e., more full of 
God) than those that are really informed and actuated by the divine Spirit, and do move on steadily and 
constantly in the way towards heaven. As the seed mat was sown in stony ground, grew up, and 
lengthened out its blade faster, than that which was sown in the good and fruitful soil. And as the 
motions of our sense, and fancy, and passions, while our souls are in this mortal condition, sunk down 
deeply into the body, are many times more vigorous, and make stronger impressions upon us, than those 
of the higher powers of the soul, which are more subtle, and remote from these mixed animal perceptions : 
that devotion which is there seated, may seern to have more energy and life in it, than that, which gently, 
and with a more delicate kind of touch spreads itself upon the understanding, and from thence mildly 
derives itself through our wills and affections. But however the former may be more boisterous for a 
time, yet this is of a more consistent, spermatical and thriving nature. For that proceeding indeed from 
nothing but a sensual and fleshly apprehension of God and true happiness, is but of a flitting and fading 
nature ; and as the sensible powers and faculties grow more languid, or the sun of divine light shines 
more brightly upon us, these earthly devotions, like our culinary fires, will abate their heat and fervor. 
But a true celestial warmth will never be extinguished, because it is of an immortal nature ; and being 
once seated vitally in the souls of men, it will regulate and order all the motions of it in a due manner, 
as the natural heat, radicated in the hearts of living creatures, hath the dominion and economy of the 
whole body under it. True religion is no piece of artifice ; it is no boiling up of our imaginative powers, 
nor the glowing heats of passion ; though these are too often mistaken for it, when in our jugglings in 
religion we cast a mist before our own eyes : but it is a new nature, informing the souls of men ; it is a 
Godlike frame of spirit, discovering itself most, of all in serene and clear minds, in deep humility, meek- 
ness, self-denial, universal love to God and all true goodness, without partiality, and without hypocrisy 
whereby we are taught to know God, and knowing him to love him, and conform ourselves as much as 
Tta> be to all that perfection which shines in him. 


no person of common understanding, who will say or imagine that the bringing 
words (let them be what words they will) to the mind is an effect of that na 
ture which it is impossible the mind of a natural man, while he remains in a 
state of nature, should be the subject of, or any thing like it ; or that it requires 
any new divine sense in the soul ; or that the bringing sounds or letters to the 
mind, is an effect of so high, holy, and excellent a nature, that it is impossible 
any created power should be the cause of it. 

As the suggesting words of Scripture to the mind, is only the exciting in 
the mind ideas of certain sounds or letters ; so it is only one way of exciting 
ideas in the imagination ; for sounds and letters are external ihings, that are the 
objects of the external senses of seeing and hearing. Ideas of certain marks 
upon paper, such as any of the twenty-four letters, in whatever order, or any 
sounds of the voice, are as much external ideas, as of any other shapes or sounds 
whatsoever ; and therefore, by what has been already said concerning these 
external ideas, it is evident they are nothing spiritual ; and if at any time the 
Spirit of God suggests these letters or sounds to the mind, this is a common, and 
not any special or gracious influence of that Spirit. And therefore it follows 
from what has been already proved, that those affections which have this effect 
for their foundation, are no spiritual or gracious affections. But let it be ob 
served what it is that I say, viz., when this effect, even the immediate and extra 
ordinary manner of words of Scripture s coming to the mind, is that which ex 
cites the affections, and is properly the foundation of them, then these affections 
are not spiritual. It may be so, that persons may have gracious affections going 
with Scriptures which come to their minds, and the Spirit of God may make 
use of those Scriptures to excite them ; when it is some spiritual sense, taste or 
relish they have of the divine and excellent things contained in those Scriptures, 
that is the thing which excites their affections, and not the extraordinary and 
sudden manner of words being brought to their minds. They are affected with 
the instruction they receive from the words, and the view of the glorious things 
of God or Christ, and things appertaining to them, that they contain and teach ; 
and not because the words came suddenly, as though some person had spoken 
them to them, thence concluding that God did as it were immediately speak to 
them. Persons oftentimes are exceedingly affected on this foundation ; the 
words of some great and high promises of Scripture came suddenly to their 
minds, and they look upon the words as directed immediately by God to them, 
as though the words that moment proceeded out of the mouth of God as spoken 
to them : so that they take it as a voice from God, immediately revealing to 
them their happy circumstances, and promising such and such great things to 
them : and this it is that effects and elevates them. There is no new spiritual 
understanding of the divine things contained in the Scripture, or new spiritual 
sense of the glorious things taught in that part of the Bible going before their 
affection, and being the foundation of it. All the new understanding they have, 
or think they have, to be the foundation of their affection, is this, that the words 
are spoken to them, because they come so suddenly and extraordinarily. And 
so this affection is built wholly on the sand ! Because it is built on a conclu 
sion for which they have no foundation. For, as has been shown, the sudden 
coming of the words to their minds, is no evidence that the bringing them to 
their minds in that manner was from God. And if it was true that God brought 
the words to their minds, and they certainly knew it, that would not be spir 
itual knowledge ; it may be without any spiritual sense : Balaam might know 
that the words which God suggested to him, were indeed suggested to him by 
God, and yet have no spiritual knowledge. So that these affections which are 


built on that notion, that texts of Scripture are sent immediately from God, are 
built on no spiritual foundation, and are vain and delusive. Persons who have 
their affections thus raised, if they should be inquired of, whether they have 
any new sense of the excellency of things contained in those Scriptures, would 
probably say, Yes, without hesitation : but it is true no otherwise than thus, that 
when they have taken up that notion, that the words are spoken immediately to 
them, that makes them seem sweet to them, and they own the things which 
these Scriptures say to them, for excellent things and wonderful things. As for 
instance supposing these were the words which were suddenly brought to their 
minds, Fear not, it is your Father s good pleasure to give you the kingdom ; 
they having confidently taken up a notion that the words were as it were im 
mediately spoken from heaven to them, as an immediate revelation that God 
was their Father, and had given the kingdom to them, they are greatly affected 
by it, and the words seem sweet to them ; and oh, they say, "they are excel 
lent things that are contained in those words !" But the reason why the pro 
mise seems excellent to them, is only because they think it is made to them im 
mediately ; all the sense they have of any glory in them, is only from self-love, 
and from their own imagined interest in the words ; not that they had any view 
or sense of the holy and glorious nature of the kingdom of heaven and the spi 
ritual glory of that God who gives it, and of his excellent grace to sinful men, 
in offering and giving them this kingdom, of his own good pleasure preceding 
their imagined interest in these things, and their being affected by them, and 
being the foundation of their affection, and hope of an interest in them. On the 
contrary, they first imagine they are interested, and then are highly affected 
with that, and then can own these things to be excellent. So that the sudden 
and extraordinary way of the Scripture s coming to their mind is plainly the 
first foundation of the whole ; which is a clear evidence of the wretched delu 
sion they are under. 

The first comfort of many persons, and what they call their conversion, is 
after this manner : after awakening and terror, some comfortable sweet promise 
comes suddenly and wonderfully to their minds ; and the manner of its coming 
makes them conclude it comes from God to them ; and this is the very thing 
that is all the foundation of their faith, and hope, and comfort : from hence 
they take their first encouragement to trust in God and in Christ, because they 
think that God, by some Scripture so brought, has now already revealed to them 
that he loves them, and has already promised them eternal life, which is very 
absurd ; for every one of common knowledge of the principles of religion, knows 
that it is God s manner to reveal his love to men, and their interest in the pro 
mises, after they have believed, and not before, because they must first believe 
before they have any interest in the promises to be revealed. The Spirit of God 
is a Spirit of truth and not of lies : he does not bring Scriptures to men s minds, 
to reveal to them that they have an interest in God s favor and promises, when 
they have none, having not yet believed : which would be the case, if God s 
bringing texts of Scripture to men s minds, to reveal to them that their sins were 
forgiven, or that it was God s pleasure to give them the kingdom, or any thing 
of that nature, went before, and was the foundation of their first faith. No 
promise of the covenant of grace belongs to any man, until he has first believed 
in Christ ; for it is by faith alone that we become interested in Christ, and the 
promises of the new covenant made in him : and therefore whatever spirit ap 
plies the promises of that covenant to a person who has not first believed, as 
being already his, must be a lying spirit, and that faith which is first built on 
such an application of promises is built upon a lie. God s manner is not to 

VOL. III. 11 


bring comfortable texts of Scripture to give men assurance of his love, and that 
they shall be happy, before they have had a faith of dependence.* And if the 
Scripture which comes to a person s mind, be not so properly a promise, as an 
invitation ; yet if he makes the sudden or unusual manner of the invitation s 
coming to his mind, the ground on which he believes that he is invited, it is 
not true faith ; because it is built on that which is not the true ground of faith. 
True faith is built on no precarious foundation : but a determination that the 
words of such a particular text were, by the immediate power of God, suggest 
ed to the mind, at such a time, as though then spoken and directed by God to 
him, because the words came after such a manner, is wholly an uncertain and 
precarious determination, as has been now shown; and therefore is a false and 
sandy foundation for faith ; and accordingly that faith which is built upon it is 
false. The only certain foundation which any person has to believe that he is 
invited to partake of the blessings of the gospel, is, that the word of God de 
clares that persons so qualified as he is, are invited, and God who declares it, 
is true, and cannot lie. If a sinner be once convinced of the veracity of God, 
and that the Scriptures are his word, he will need no more to convince and sat 
isfy him that he is invited ; for the Scriptures are full of invitations to sinners, 
to the chief of sinners, to come and partake of the benefits of the gospel ; he 
will not want any new speaking of God to him ; what he hath spoken already 
will be enough with him. 

As the first comfort of many persons, and their affections at the time of their 
supposed conversion, are built on such grounds as these which have been men 
tioned ; so are their joys and hopes and other affections, from time to time 
afterwards. They have often particular words of Scripture, sweet declarations 
and promises suggested to them, which by reason of the manner of their coming, 
they think are immediately sent from God to them, at that time, which they look 
upon as their warrant to take them, and which they actually make the main 
ground of their appropriating them to themselves, and of the comfort they take 
in them, and the confidence they receive from them. Thus they imagine a kind 
of conversation is carried on between God and them ; and that God, from time 
to time, does, as it were, immediately speak to them, and satisfy their doubts, 

* Mr. Stoddard in his Guide to Christ, p. 8, says, that u sometimes men, after they have been in 
trouble a while, have eoine promises come to them, with a great deal of refreshing ; and they hope God 
has accepted them :" and s.iys that, " In this case, the minister may tell them, that God never gives 
a faith of assurance, before he gives a faith of dependence; for he never manifests his love, until men 
are in a state of favor and reconciliation, which is by faith of dependence. When men have comforta 
ble Scriptures come to them, they are apt to take them as tokens of God s love: but men must be 
brought, into Christ, by accepting the offer of the gospel, before they are fit for such manifestations. 
God s method is, first to make the soul accept of the offers of grace, and then to manifest his good estate 
unto him." And p. 76, speaking of them " that seem to be brought to lie at God s foot, and give an 
account of their closing with Christ, and that God has revealed Christ to them, and drawn their hearts 
to him, and they do accept of Christ," he says: "In this case, it is best to examine whether by that 
light that was given him, he saw Christ and salvation offered to him, or whether he saw that God 
loved him, or pardoned him : for the offer of grace and our acceptance goes before pardon, and there 
fore, much more before the knowledge of it." 

Mr. Shepard, in his Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part II. p. 15, says, that "Grace and the love 
of Christ (the fairest colors under f he sun) may be pretended ; but. if you shall receive, under this ap 
pearance, that God witnesseth his love, first by an absolute promise, take heed there ; for under this 
appearance you may as well bring in immediate revelations, and from thence come to forsake the Scrip 

And in Part I. p. 86, he snys, " Is Christ yours ? Yes, I see it. How 1 By any word or promise 1 
No ; this is delusion." And p. 136, speaking of them that have no solid ground of peace, he reckons 
" those that content themselves with the revelation of the Lord s love without the sight of any work, 
or not looking to it." And says presently after, " The testimony of the Spirit does not make a man 
more a Christian, but only evidenceth it ; as it is the nature of a witness not to make a thing to be true, 
but to clear and evidence it." And p. 140, speaking of them that say they have the witness of the 
Spirit, that makes a difference between them and hypocrites, he says, " the witness of the Spirit make* 
not the first difference : for first a man is a believer, and in Christ, and justified, called and sanctified, 
before the Spirit does witness it; else the Spirit should witness to an untruth and lie." 


and testifies his love to them, and promises them supports and supplies, and his 
blessing in such and such cases, and reveals to them clearly their interest in 
eternal blessings. And thus they are often elevated, and have a course* of a 
sudden and tumultuous kind of joys, mingled with a strong confidence, and 
high opinion of themselves ; when indeed the main ground of these joys, and 
this confidence, is not any thing contained in, or taught by these Scriptures, as 
they lie in the Bible, but the manner of their coming to them ; which is a cer 
tain evidence of their delusion. There is no particular promise in the word of 
God that is the saint s, or is any otherwise made to him, or spoken to him, 
than all the promises of the covenant of grace are his, and are made to him 
and spoken to him ;* though it be true that some of these promises may be 
more peculiarly adapted to his case than others, and God by his Spirit 
may enable him better to understand some than others, and to have a greater 
sense of the preciousriess, and glory, and suitableness of the blessings contained 
in them. 

But here some may be ready to say, What, is there no such thing as any 
particular spiritual application of the promises of Scripture by the Spirit of 
God ? I answer, there is doubtless such a thing as a spiritual and saving ap 
plication of the invitations and promises of Scripture to the souls of men ; but 
it is also certain, that the nature of it is wholly misunderstood by many persons, 
to the great ensnaring of their own souls, and the giving Satan a vast advan 
tage against them, and against the interest of religion, and the church of God. 
The spiritual application of a Scripture promise does not consist in its being 
immediately suggested to the thoughts by some extrinsic agent, and being borne 
into the mind with this strong apprehension, that it is particularly spoken and 
directed to them at that time ; there is nothing of the evidence of the hand of 
God in this effect, as events have proved, in many notorious instances ; and it 
is a mean notion of a spiritual application of Scripture ; there is nothing in the 
nature of it at all beyond the power of the devil, if he be not restrained by 
God; for there is nothing in the nature of the effect that is spiritual, implying 
any vital communication of God. A truly spiritual application of the word of 
God is of a vastly higher nature ; as much above the devil s power, as it is, so 
to apply the word of God to a dead corpse, as to raise it to life ; or to a stone, 
to turn it into an angel. A spiritual application of the word of God consists in 
applying it to the heart, in spiritually enlightening, sanctifying influences. A 
spiritual application of an invitation or offer of the gospel consists, in giving 
the soul a spiritual sense or relish of the holy and divine blessings offered, and 
the sweet and wonderful grace of the offerer, in making so gracious an offer, 
and of his holy excellency and faithfulness to fulfil what he offers, and his glo 
rious sufficiency for it ; so leading and drawing forth the heart to embrace the 
offer; and thus giving the man evidence of his title to the thing offered. And 
so a spiritual application of the promises of Scripture, for the comfort of the 
saints, consists in enlightening their minds to see the holy excellency and sweet 
ness of the blessings promised, and also the holy excellency of the promiser, 
and his faithfulness and sufficiency ; thus drawing forth their hearts to embrace 

* Mr. Shepard, in his Sound Believer, p. 159, of the late impression at Boston, says, " Embrace in 
thy bosom, not. only some few promises, but all." And then he asks the question, " When may a Chris 
tian take a promise without presumption, as spoken to him ?" He answers, "The rule is very sweet, 
but certain ; when he takes all the Scripture, and embraces it as spoken unto him, he may then take 
any particular promise boldly. My meaning is, when a Christian takes hold, and wrestles with God 
for the accomplishment of all the promises of the New Testament, when he sets all the commands be 
fore him, as a compass and guide to walk after, when he applies all the threatenings to drive him nearer 
unto Christ, the end of them. This no hypocrite can do ; this the saints shall do ; and by this they 
may know when the Lord speaks in particular unto them." 


the promiser, and thing promised ; and by this means, giving the sensible act 
ings of grace, enabling them to see their grace, and so their title to the prom 
ise. -An application not consisting in this divine sense and enlightening of the 
mind, but consisting only in the word s being borne into the thoughts, as if im 
mediately then spoken, so making persons believe, on no other foundation, that 
the promise is theirs, is a blind application, and belongs to the spirit of dark 
ness, and not of light. 

When persons have their affections raised after this manner, those affections 
are really not raised by the word of God ; the Scripture is not the foundation 
of them ; it is not any thing contained in those Scriptures which come to their 
minds, that raise their affections ; but truly that effect, viz., the strange manner 
of the word s being suggested to their minds, and a proposition from thence taken 
up by them, which indeed is not contained in that Scripture, nor any other ; as 
that his sins are forgiven him, or that it is the Father s good pleasure to give 
him in particular the kingdom, or the like. There are propositions to be found 
in the Bible, declaring that persons of such and such qualifications are forgiven 
and beloved of God : but there are no propositions to be found in the Bible, 
declaring that such and such particular persons, independent on any previous 
knowledge of any qualifications, are forgiven and beloved of God : and there 
fore, when any person is comforted, and affected by any such proposition, it is 
by another word, a word newly coined, and not any word of God contained in 
the Bible.* And thus many persons are vainly affected and deluded. 

Again, it plainly appears from what has been demonstrated, that no revela 
tion of secret facts by immediate suggestion, is any thing spiritual and divine, 
in that sense wherein gracious effects and operations are so. 

By secret facts, I mean things that have been done, or are come to pass, or 
shall hereafter come to pass, which are secret in that sense that they do not ap 
pear to the senses, nor are known by any argumentation, or any evidence to 
reason, nor any other way, but only by that revelation by immediate suggestion 
of the ideas of them to the mind. Thus for instance, if it should be revealed 
to me, that the next year this land would be invaded by a fleet from France, or 
that such and such persons would then be converted, or that I myself should 
then be converted ; not by enabling me to argue out these events from any thing 
which now appears in providence, but immediately suggesting and bearing in 
upon my mind, in an extraordinary manner, the apprehension or ideas of these 
facts, with a strong suggestion or impression on my mind, that I had no hand 
in myself, that these things would come to pass : or if it should be revealed to 
me, that this day there is a battle fought between the armies of such and such 
powers in Europe ; or that such a prince in Europe was this day converted, or is 
now in a converted state, having been converted formerly, or that one of my 
neighbors is converted, or that I myself am converted ; not by having any other 
evidence of any of these facts, from whence I argue them, but an immediate 
extraordinary suggestion or excitation of these ideas, and a strong impression of 
them upon my mind : this is a revelation of secret facts by immediate sugges 
tion, as much as if the facts were future ; for the facts being past, present, or 

* " Some Christians have rested with a work without Christ, which is abominable : but after a man 
is in Christ, not to judge by the work, is first not to judge from a word. For though there is a word, 
which may give a man a dependence on Christ, without feeling any work, nay when he feels none aa 
absolute promises : yet no word givir.ig assurance, but that which is made to some work, he that believeth, 
or is poor in spirit, &c., until that work is seen, has no assurance from that promise." Shepard s Parable 
of the Ten Virgins, Part I. p. 86. 

" If God should tell a saint that he has grace, he might know it by believing the word 3f God : but it 
is not in this way that godly men do know that they have grace : it is not revealed in the word, and the 
Snirit of God doth not testify it to particular persons." Stoddard s Nature of Saving Conversion, p. 84. 85. 


future, alters not the case, as long as they are secret and hidden from my senses 
and reason, and not spoken of in Scripture, nor known by me any other way than by 
immediate suggestion. If I have it revealed to me, that such a revolution is come 
to pass this day in the Ottoman Empire, it is the very same sort of revelation, 
as if it were revealed to me that such a revolution would come to pass there this 
day come twelvemonth ; because, though one is present and the other future, 
yet both are equally hidden from me, any other way than by immediate revela 
tion. When Samuel told Saul that the asses which he went to seek were found, 
and that his father had left caring for the asses and sorrowed for him ; this was 
by the same kind of revelation, as that by which he told Saul, that in the plain 
of Tabor there should meet him three men going up to God to Bethel (1 Sam. 
x. 2, 3), though one of these things was future, and the other was not. So 
when Elisha told the king of Israel the words that the king of Syria spake in 
his bed-chamber, it was by the same kind of revelation with that by which he 
foretold many things to come. 

It is evident that this revelation of secret facts by immediate suggestions, 
has nothing of the nature of a spiritual and divine operation, in the sense fore- 
mentioned ; there is nothing at all in the nature of the perceptions or ideas 
themselves, which are excited in the mind, that is divinely excellent, and so, far 
above all the ideas of natural men ; though the manner of exciting the ideas be 
extraordinary. In those things which are spiritual, as has been shown, not only 
the manner of producing the effect, but the effect wrought is divine, and so vastly 
above all that can be in an unsanctified mind. Now simply the having an idea 
of facts, setting aside the manner of producing those ideas, is nothing beyond 
what the minds of wicked men are susceptible of, without any goodness in them; 
and they all, either have or will have, the knowledge of the truth of the great 
est and most important facts, that have been, are, or shall be. 

And as to the extraordinary manner of producing the ideas or perception of 
facts, even by immediate suggestion, there is nothing in it, but what the minds 
of natural men, while they are yet natural men, are capable of, as is manifest 
in Balaam, and others spoken of in the Scripture. And therefore it appears 
that there is nothing appertaining to this immediate suggestion of secret facts 
that is spiritual, in the sense in which it has been proved that gracious operations 
are so. If there be nothing in the ideas themselves, which is holy and divine, 
and so nothing but what may be in a mind not sanctified, then God can put them 
into the mind by immediate power without sanctifying it. As there is nothing 
in the idea of a rainbow itself, that is of a holy and divine nature ; so that 
nothing hinders but that an unsanctified mind may receive that idea ; so God, 
if he pleases, and when he pleases, immediately, and in an extraordinary man 
ner, may excite that idea in an unsanctified mind. So also, as there is nothing 
in the idea or knowledge that such and such particular persons are forgiven and 
accepted of God, and entitled to heaven, but what unsanctified minds may have and 
will have concerning many at the day of judgment ; so God can, if he pleases, 
extraordinarily and immediately, suggest this to, and impress it upon an un 
sanctified mind now : there is no principle wanting in an unsanctified mind, to 
make it capable of such a suggestion or impression, nor is there any thing in 
it to exclude, or necessarily to prevent such a suggestion. 

And if these suggestions of secret facts be attended with texts of Scripture, 
immediately and extraordinarily brought to mind, about some other facts that 
seem in some respects similar, that does not make the operation to be of a spir 
itual and divine nature. For that suggestion of words of Scripture is no more 
divine, than the suggestion of the facts themselves ; as has been just now de- 


monstrated : and two effects together, which are neither of them spiritual, 
cannot make up one complex effect, that is spiritual. 

Hence it follows, from what has been already shown, and often repeated, 
that those affections which are properly founded on such immediate suggestions, 
or supposed suggestions, of secret facts, are not gracious affections. Not but 
that it is possible that such suggestions may be the occasion, or accidental cause . 
of gracious affections ; for so may a mistake and delusion ; but it is never pro 
perly the foundation of gracious affections : for gracious affections, as has been 
shown, are all the effects of an influence and operation which is spiritual, 
supernatural, and divine. But there are many affections, and high affections, 
which some have, that have such kind of suggestions or revelations for their 
very foundation : they look upon these as spiritual discoveries, which is a gross 
delusion, and this delusion is truly the spring whence their affections flow. 

Here it may be proper to observe, that it is exceedingly manifest from what 
has been said, that what many persons call the witness of the Spirit, that they 
are the children of God, has nothing in it spiritual and divine ; and consequently 
that the affections built upon it are vain and delusive. That which many call the 
witness of the Spirit, is no other than an immediate suggestion and impressioia 
of that fact, otherwise secret, that they are converted, or made the children of 
God, and so that their sins are pardoned, and that God has given them a title 
to heaven. This kind of knowledge, viz., knowing that a certain person is con 
verted, and delivered from hell, and entitled to heaven, is no divine sort of 
knowledge in itself. This sort of fact, is not that which requires any higher or 
more divine kind of suggestion, in order to impress it on the mind, than any 
other fact which Balaam had impressed on his mind. It requires no higher sort 
of idea or sensation, for a man to have the apprehension of his own conversion 
impressed upon him, than to have the apprehension of his neighbor s conversion, 
in like manner impressed : but God, if he pleased, might impress the knowledge 
of this fact, that he had forgiven his neighbor s sins, and given him a title to 
heaven, as well as any other fact, without any communication of his holiness : 
the excellency and importance of the fact, do not at all hinder a natural man s 
mind being susceptible of an immediate suggestion and impression of it. Balaam 
had as excellent, and important, and glorious facts as this, immediately impress 
ed on his mind, without any gracious influence ; as particularly, the coming of 
Christ, and his setting up his glorious kingdom, and the blessedness of the spiritual 
Israel in his peculiar favor, and their happiness living and dying. Yea, Abime- 
lech, king of the Philistines, had God s special favor to a particular person, 
even Abraham, revealed to him, Gen. xx. 6, 7. So it seems that he revealed 
to .Laban his special favor to Jacob, see Gen. xxxi. 24, and Psal. cv. 15. And 
if a truly good man should have an immediate revelation or suggestion from 
God, after the like manner, concerning his favor to his neighbor, or himself ; 
*it would be no higher kind of influence ; it would be no more than a common 
sort of influence of God s Spirit ; as the gift of prophecy, and all revelation by 
immediate suggestion is ; see 1 Cor. xiii. 2. And though it be true, that it is 
not possible that a natural man should have that individual suggestion from the 
Spirit of God, that he is converted, because it is not true; yet that does not 
arise from the nature of the influence, or because that kind of influence which 
suggests such excellent facts, is too high for him to be the subject of; but purely 
from the defect of a fact to be revealed. The influence which immediately sug 
gests this fact, when it is true, is of no different kind from that which immedi 
ately suggests other true facts : and so the kind and nature of the influence is 
not above what is common to natural men, with good men. 


But this is a mean, ignoble notion of the witness of the Spirit of God given 
to his dear children, to suppose that there is nothing in the kind and nature of 
that influence of the Spirit of God, in imparting this high and glorious benefit, 
but what is common to natural men, or which men are capable of. and be in the 
mean time altogether unsarnctified arid the children of hell ; and that therefore 
the benefit or gift itself has nothing of the holy nature of the Spirit of God in 
it, nothing of a vital communication of that Spirit. This notion greatly debases 
that high and most exalted kind of influence and operation of the Spirit, which 
there is in the true witness of the Spirit.* That which is called the witness of 
the Spirit, Rom. viii., is elsewhere in the New Testament called the seal of the 
Spirit, 2 Cor. i. 22, Eph. i. 13, and iv. 13, alluding to the seal of princes, an 
nexed to the instrument, by which they advanced any of their subjects to some 
high honor and dignity, or peculiar privilege in the kingdom, as a token of their 
special favor. Which is an evidence that the influence of the Spirit, of the 
Prince of princes, in sealing his favorites, is far from being of a common kind ; 
and that there is no effect of God s Spirit whatsoever, which is in its nature 
more divine; nothing more holy, peculiar, inimitable and distinguishing of 
divinity : as nothing is more royal than the royal seal ; nothing more sacred, 
that belongs to a prince, and more peculiarly denoting what belongs to him ; it 
being the very end and design of it, to be the most peculiar stamp and confir 
mation of the royal authority, and great note of distinction, whereby that which 
proceeds from the king, or belongs to him, may be know 7 n from every thing 
else. And therefore undoubtedly the seal of the great King of heaven and 
earth enstamped on the heart, is something high and holy in its own nature, 
some excellent communication from the infinite fountain of divine beauty and 
glory ; and not merely a making known a secret fact by revelation or sugges 
tion ; which is a sort of influence of the Spirit of God, that the children of the 
devil have often been the subjects of. The seal of the Spirit is a kind of effect 
of the Spirit of God on the heart, which natural men, while such, are so far 
from a capacity of being the subjects of, that they can have no manner of notion 
or idea of it, agreeable to Rev. ii. 17 : " To him that overcometh will I give to 
eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a 
new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it." There 
is all reason to suppose that what is here spoken of, is the same mark, evidence, 
or blessed token of special favor, which is elsewhere called the seal of the 

What has misled many in their notion of that influence of the Spirit of God 
we are speaking of, is the word witness, its being called the witness of the 
Spirit. Hence they have taken it, not to be any effect or work of the Spirit 
upon the heart, giving evidence, from w r hence men may argue that they are the 
children of God ; but an inward immediate suggestion, as though God inwardly 

* The late venerable Stoddard, in his younger time, falling in with the opinion of some others, re 
ceived this notion of the witness of the Spirit, by way of immediate suggestion ; but, in the latter part of 
his life, when he had more thoroughly weighed things, and had more experience, he entirely rejected it ; 
as appears by his treatise of the Nature of Saving Conversion, p. 84 : "The Spirit of God doth not 
testify to particular persons, that they are godly. Some think that the Spirit of God doth testify to 
some ; and they ground it on Rom. viii. 1G, The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we 
are the children of God. They think the Spirit reveals it by giving an inward testimony to it ; and some 
godly men think they have had experience of it : but they may easily mistake when the Spirit of God 
doth eminently stir up the spirit, of faith, and sheds abroad the love of God n the heart, it is easy to 
mistiike it for a testimony. And that is not the meaning of Paul s words. Tne Spirit reveals things to 
us, by opening our eyes to see what is revealed in the word ; but the Spirit doth not reveal new truths, 
not revealed in the word. The Spirit discovers the grace of God in Christ, and thereby draws forth 
special actings of faith and love, which are evidential ; but it doth not work in way of testimony. If God 
do but help us to receive the revelations in the word, we shall have comfort enough without new revela 


spoke to the man, and testified to him, and told him that he was his child, by a 
kind of a secret voice, or impression : not observing the manner in which the 
word witness, or testimony, is often used in the New Testament, where such 
terms often signify, not only a mere declaring and asserting a thing to be true, 
but holding forth evidence from whence a thing may be argued, and proved to 
be true. Thus Heb. ii. 4, God is said to " bear witness, with signs and wonders, 
and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost." Now these miracles, here 
spoken of, are called God s witness, not because they are of the nature of asser 
tions, but evidences and proofs. So Acts xiv. 3 : " Long time therefore abode 
they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his 
grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands." And John 
v. 36 : " But I have greater witness than that of John : for the works which 
the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that 1 do, bear witness of 
me, that the Father hath sent me." Again, chap. x. 25 : " The works that 1 
do in my Father s name, they bear witness of me." So the water and the 
blood are said to bear witness, 1 John v. 8, riot that they spoke or asserted any 
thing, but they were proofs and evidences. So God s works of providence, in 
the rain and fruitful seasons, are spoken of as witnesses of God s being and 
goodness, i. e., they are evidences of these things. And when the Scripture 
speaks of the seal of the Spirit, it is an expression which properly denotes, not 
an immediate voice or suggestion, but some work or effect of the Spirit, that is 
left as a divine mark upon the soul, to be an evidence by which God s children 
might be known. The seals of princes were the distinguishing marks of prin 
ces : and thus God s seal is spoken of as God s mark, Rev. vii. 3 : " Hurt not 
the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our 
God in their foreheads ;" together with Ezek. ix. 4, " Set a mark upon the 
foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that are 
done in the midst thereof." When God sets his seal on a man s heart by his 
Spirit, there is some holy stamp, some image impressed and left upon the heart 
by the Spirit, as by the seal upon the wax. And this holy stamp, or impressed 
image, exhibiting clear evidence to the conscience, that the subject of it is the 
child of God, is the very thing which in Scripture is called the seal of the Spirit, 
and the witness, or evidence of the Spirit. And this image enstamped by the 
Spirit on God s children s hearts, is his own image ; that is the evidence by 
which they are known to be God s children, that they have the image of their 
Father stamped upon their hearts by the Spirit of adoption. Seals anciently had 
engraven on them two things, viz., the image and the name of the person whose 
seal it was. Therefore when Christ says to his spouse, Cant. viii. 6, " Set me 
as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm ;" it is as much as to say, 
let my name and image remain impressed there. The seals of princes were 
wont to bear their image ; so that what they set their seal and royal mark upon, 
had their image left on it. It was the manner of princes of old to have their 
image engraven on their jewels and precious stones ; and the image of Augus 
tus engraven on a precious stone, was used as the seal of the Roman emper 
ors, in Christ s and the Apostle s times.* And the saints are the jewels of 
Jesus Christ, the great potentate, who has the possession of the empire of the 
universe ; and these jewels have his image enstamped upon them, by his royal 
signet, which is the Holy Spirit. And this is undoubtedly what the Scripture 
means by the seal of the Spirit ; especially when it is stamped in so fair and 
clear a manner, as to be plain to the eye of conscience ; which is what the 

* See Chambers Dictionaiy, under the word ENGRAVING. 


Scripture calls our spirit. This is truly an effect that is spiritual, supernatural 
and divine. This is in itself of a holy nature, being a communication of the 
divine nature and beauty. That kind of influence of the Spirit which gives and 
leaves this stamp upon the heart, is such that no natural man can be the sub 
ject of any thing of the like nature with it. This is the highest sort of witness 
of the Spirit, which it is possible the soul should be the subject of : if there were 
any such thing as a witness of the Spirit by immediate suggestion or revelation, 
this would be vastly more noble and excellent, and as much above it as the heaven 
is above the earth. This the devil cannot imitate; as to an inward suggestion 
of the Spirit of God, by a kind of secret voice speaking, and immediately as 
serting and revealing a fact, he can do that which is a thousand times so like 
to this, as he can to that holy and divine effect, or work of the Spirit of God, W 7 hich 
has now been spoken of. 

Another thing which is a full proof that the seal of the Spirit is no revela 
tion of any fact by immediate suggestion, but is grace itself in the soul, is, that 
the seal of the Spirit is called in the Scripture, the earnest of the Spirit. It is 
very plain that the seal of the Spirit is the same thing with the earnest of the 
Spirit, by 2 Cor. i. 22 : " Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of 
the Spirit in our hearts ;" and Eph. i. 13, 14, In whom, after that ye believed, 
ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our 
inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of 
his glory." Now the earnest is part of the money agreed for, given in hand, as 
a token of the whole, to be paid in due time ; a part of the promised inheritance 
granted now, in token of full possession of the whole hereafter. But surely 
that kind of communication of the Spirit of God, which is of the nature of eter 
nal glory, is the highest and most excellent kind of communication, something 
that is in its own nature spiritual, holy and divine, and far from any thing that 
is common : and therefore high above any thing of the nature of inspiration, or 
revelation of hidden facts by suggestion of the Spirit of God, which many natur 
al men have had. What is the earnest, and beginning of glory, but grace it 
self, especially in the more lively and clear exercises of it ? It is not prophecy, 
nor tongues, nor knowledge, but that more excellent divine thing, " chanty 
that never fail-eth," which is a prelibation and beginning of the light, sweetness 
and blessedness of heaven, that world of love or charity. It is grace that is the 
seed of glory and dawning of glory in the heart, and therefore it is grace that 
is the earnest of the future inheritance. What is it that is the beginning or 
earnest of eternal life in the soul, but spiritual life ; and what is that but grace 1 
The inheritance that Christ has purchased for the elect, is the Spirit of God; not 
in any extraordinary gifts, but in his vital indwelling in the heart, exerting and 
communicating himself there, in his own proper, holy, or divine nature j and 
this is the sum total of the inheritance that Christ purchased for the elect. For 
so are things constituted in the affair of our redemption, that the Father pro 
vides the Saviour or purchaser, and the purchase is made of him ; and the Son is 
the purchaser and the price ; and the Holy Spirit is the great blessing or inhe 
ritance purchased, as is intimated, Gal. iii. 13, 14 ; and hence the Spirit 
often is spoken of as the sum of the blessings promised in the gospel, Luke xxiv. 
49, Acts i. 4, and chap. ii. 38, 39, Gal. iii. 14, Eph. i. 13. This inheritance 
was the grand legacy which Christ left his disciples and church, in his last will 
and testament, John chap, xiv., xv., xvi. This is the sum of the blessings of 
eternal life, which shall be given in heaven. (Compare John vii. 37, 38, 39, 
and John iv. 14, with Rev. xxi. 6, and xxii. 1, 17.) It is through the vital 
communications and indwelling of the Spirit that the saints have all their light, 

VOL. III. 12 


life, holiness, beauty, and joy in heaven ; and it is through the vital communica 
tions and indwelling of the same Spirit that the saints have all light, life, holi 
ness, beauty and comfort on earth ; but only communicated in less measure. And 
this vital indwelling of the Spirit in the saints, in this less measure and small begin 
ning, is, " the earnest of the Spirit, the earnest of the future inheritance, and the 
first fruits of the Spirit," as the apostle calls it, Rom, viii. 22, where, by " the 
first fruits of the Spirit," the apostle undoubtedly means the same vital, gracious 
principle that he speaks of in all the preceding part of the chapter, which he 
calls Spirit, and sets in opposition to flesh or corruption. Therefore this earn 
est of the Spirit, and first fruits of the Spirit, which has been shown to be the 
same with the seal of the Spirit, is the vital, gracious, sanctifying communica 
tion and influence of the Spirit, and not any immediate suggestion or revelation 
of facts by the Spirit.* 

And indeed the apostle, when in that, Rom. viii. 16, he speaks of the Spi 
rit s bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, does suffi 
ciently explain himself, if his words were but attended to. What is here ex 
pressed is connected with the two preceding verses, as resulting from what the 
apostle had said there, as every reader may see. The three verses together are 
thus : " For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God : 
for ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear ; but ye have receiv 
ed the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father : the Spirit itself bear- 
eth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God." Here, what the 
apostle says, if we take it together, plainly shows that what he has respect to, 
when he speaks of the Spirit s giving us witness or evidence that we are God s 
children, is his dwelling in us, and leading us, as a spirit of adoption, or spiril 
of a child, disposing us to behave towards God as to a Father. This is the wit 
ness or evidence which the apostle speaks of that we are children, that we have 
the spirit of children, or spirit of adoption. And what is that but the spirit of 
love 1 There are two kinds of spirits the apostle speaks of, the spirit of a slave, 
or the spirit of bondage, that is fear ; and the spirit of a child, or spirit of adop 
tion, and that is love. The apostle says, we have not received the spirit of 
bondage, or of slaves, which is a spirit of fear ; but \ve have received the more 
ingenuous noble spirit of children, a spirit of love, which naturally disposes us to 
go to God as children to a father, and behave towards God as children. And 
this is the evidence or witness which the Spirit of God gives us that we are his 
children. This is the plain sense of the apostle ; and so undoubtedly he here 
is speaking of the very same way of casting out doubting and fear and the spi 
rit of bondage, which the Apostle John speaks of, 1 John iv. 18, viz., by the 
prevailing of love, that is the spirit of a child. The spirit of bondage works by 
fear, the slave fears the rod : but love cries, Abba, Father ; it disposes us to 
go to God, and behave ourselves towards God as children ; and it gives us clear 
evidence of our union to God as his children, and so casts out fear. So that it 
appears that the witness of the Spirit the apostle speaks of, is far from being 
any whisper, or immediate suggestion or revelation ; but that gracious holy 
effect of the Spirit of God in the hearts of the saints, the disposition and temper 
of children, appearing in sweet childlike love to God, which casts out fear, or 
a spirit of a slave. 

* " After a man is in Christ, not to judge by the work, is not to judge by the Spirit. For the apostle 
makes the earnest of the Spirit to be the seal. Now earnest is part of the money bargained for ; the 
beginning of heaven, of the light and life of it. He that sees not that the Lord is his by that, sees no 
God of his at all. Oh, therefore, do not Irok for a Spirit, without a word to reveal, nor a word to reveal, 
without seeing and feeling of some work first. I thank the Lord, I do but pity those that think otherwise. 
If a sheep of Christ, Oh, wonder not." Shepartfs Par. Part I. p. 26. 


And the same thing is evident from all the context : it is plain the apostle 
speaks of the Spirit, over and over again, as dwelling in the hearts of the saints, 
as a gracious principle, set in opposition to the flesh or corruption : and so he 
does in the words that immediately introduce this passage we are upon, ver. 13, 
" For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die : but if ye through the Spirit do 
mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live." 

Indeed it is past doubt with me, that the apostle has a more special respect 
to the spirit of grace, or the spirit of love, or spirit of a child, in its more lively 
actings ; for it is perfect love, or strong love only, which so witnesses or eviden 
ces that we are children, as to cast out fear, and wholly deliver from the spirit 
of bondage. The strong and lively exercises of a spirit of childlike, evan 
gelical, humble love to God, give clear evidence of the soul s relation to God as 
his child ; which does very greatly and directly satisfy the soul. And though 
it be far from being true, that the soul in this case, judges only by an immediate 
witness, without any sign or evidence ; for it judges and is assured by the great 
est sign and clearest evidence ; yet in this case the saint stands in no need of 
multiplied signs, or any long reasoning upon them. And though the sight of 
his relative union with God, and his being in his favor, is not without a medium, 
because he sees it by that medium, viz., his love ; yet his sight of the union of 
his heart to God is immediate : love, the bond of union, is seen intuitively : the 
saint sees and feels plainly the union between his soul and God ; it is so strong 
and lively, that he cannot doubt of it. And hence he is assured that he is a 
child. How can he doubt whether he stands in a childlike relation to God, 
when he plainly sees a childlike union between God and his soul, and hence 
does boldly, and as it were naturally and necessarily cry, Abba, Father 1 

And whereas the apostle says, the Spirit bears witness with our spirits ; by 
our spirit here, is meant our conscience, which is called the spirit of man, Prov. 
xx. 17, " The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward 
parts of the belly." We elsewhere read of the witness of this spirit of ours : 
2 Cor. i. 12, " For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience." And 
1 John iii. 19, 20, 21 : " And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and 
shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is great 
er than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us 
not, then have we confidence towards God." When the Apostle Paul speaks 
of the Spirit of God bearing witness w r ith our spirit, he is not to be understood 
of two spirits that are two separate, collateral, independent witnesses ; but it is 
by one that we receive the witness of the other : the Spirit of God gives the 
evidence by infusing and shedding abroad the love of God, the spirit of a child, 
in the heart, and our spirit, or our conscience, receives and declares this evi 
dence for our rejoicing. 

Many have been the mischiefs that have arisen from that false and delusive 
notion of the witness of the Spirit, that it is a kind of inward voice, suggestion, 
or declaration from God to man, that he is beloved of him, and pardoned, elect 
ed, or the like, sometimes with, and sometimes without a text of Scripture ; and 
many have been the false and vain (though very high) affections that have 
arisen from hence. And it is to be feared that multitudes of souls have been 
eternally undone by it. I have therefore insisted the longer on this head. But 
T proceed now to a second characteristic of gracious affections. 

II. The first objective ground of gracious affections, is the transcend ently 
excellent and amiable nature of divine things as they are themselves ; and not 
any conceived relation they bear to self, or self-interest. 

I say, that the supremely excellent nature of divine things, is the first, or 


primary and original objective foundation of the spiritual affections of true 
saints ; for I do not suppose that all relation which divine things bear to them 
selves, and their own particular interest, is wholly excluded from all influence in 
their gracious affections. For this may have, and indeed has, a secondary and 
consequential influence in those affections that are truly holy and spiritual, as 1 
shall show how by and by. 

It was before observed that the affection of love is, as it were, the fountain 
of all affection ; and particularly that Christian love is the fountain of all gra 
cious affections : now the divine excellency and glory of God and Jesus Christ, 
the word of God, the works of God, and the ways of God, &c., is the primary 
reason why a true saint loves these things ; and not any supposed interest that 
he has in them, or any conceived benefit that he has received from them, 3r shall re 
ceive from them, or any such imagined relation which they bear to his interest, that 
self-love can properly be said to be the first foundation of his love to these things. 

Some say that all love arises from self-love ; and that it is impossible in the 
nature of things, for any man to have any love to God, or any other being, but 
that love to himself must be the foundation of it. But I humbly suppose it is 
for want of consideration that they say so. They argue, that whoever loves 
God, and so desires his glory or the enjoyment of him, he desires these things as 
his own happiness ; the glory of God, and the beholding and enjoying his per 
fections are considered as things agreeable to him, tending to make him happy ; 
he places his happiness in them, and desires them as things, which (if they 
were obtained) would be delightful to him, or would fill him with delight and 
joy, and so make him happy. And so, they say, it is from self-love, or a desire 
of his own happiness, that he desires God should be glorified, and desires to 
behold and enjoy his glorious perfections. But then they ought to consider a 
little further, and inquire how the man came to place his happiness in God s 
being glorified, and in contemplating and enjoying God s perfections. There 
is no doubt but that after God s glory, and the beholding his perfections, are 
become so agreeable to him, that he places his highest happiness in these things, 
then he will desire them, as he desires his own happiness. But how came these 
things to be so agreeable to him, that he esteems it his highest happiness to 
glorify God, &c. ? Is not this the fruit of love ? A man must first love God, 
or have his heart united to him, before he will esteem God s good his own, and 
before he will desire the glorifying, and enjoying of God as his happiness. It 
is not strong arguing, that because after a man has his heart united to God in 
love, as a fruit of this, he desires his glory and enjoyment, as his own happiness, 
that therefore a desire of this happiness of his own must needs be the cause and 
foundation of his love ; unless it be a strong arguing, that because a father begat 
a son, therefore his son certainly begat him. If after a man loves God, and 
has his heart so united to him, as to look upon God as his chief good, and on 
God s good as his own, it will be a consequence and fruit of this, that even self- 
love, or love to his own happiness, will cause him to desire the glorifying and 
enjoying of God ; it will not thence follow, that this very exercise of self-love, 
went before his love to God, and that his love to God was a consequence and 
fruit of that. Something else, entirely distinct from self-love, might be the 
cause of this, viz., a change made in the views of his mind, and relish of his 
heart ; whereby he apprehends a beauty, glory, and supreme good, in God s 
nature, as it is in itself. This may be the thing that first draws his heart to 
him, and causes his heart to be united to him, prior to all considerations of his 
own interest or happiness, although after this, and as a fruit of this, he necessa 
rily seeks his interest and happiness in God. 


There is such a thing as a kind of love or affection that a man may have to 
wards persons or things, which does properly arise from self-love ; a precon 
ceived relation to himself, or some respect already manifested by another to 
him, or some benefit already received or depended on, is truly the first founda 
tion of his love, and what his affection does wholly arise from ; and is what 
precedes any relish of, or delight in the nature and qualities inherent in the 
being beloved, as beautiful and amiable. When the first thing that draws a 
man s benevolence to another, is the beholding those qualifications and proper 
ties in him, which appear to him lovely in themselves ; and the subject of them, 
on this account, worthy of esteem and good will, love arises in a very different 
manner, than when it first arises from some gift bestowed by another or de 
pended on from him, as a judge loves and favors a man that has bribed him ; 
or from the relation he supposes another has to him, as a man who loves 
another, because he looks upon him as his child. When love to another arises 
thus, it does truly and properly arise from self-love. 

That kind of affection to God or Jesus Christ, which does thus properly 
arise from self-love, cannot be a truly gracious and spiritual love, as appears 
from what has been said already : for self-love is a principle entirely natural, 
and as much in the hearts of devils as angels and therefore surely nothing that 
is the mere result of it can be supernatural and divine, in the manner before de 
scribed.* Christ plainly speaks of this kind of love, as what is nothing beyond 
the love of wicked men : Luke vi. 32, " If ye love them that love you, what 
thank have ye ? For sinners also love those that love them." And the devil 
himself knew that that kind of respect to God which was so mercenary, as to 
be only for benefits received or depended on (which is all one), is worthless in 
the sight of God ; otherwise he never would have made use of such a slander 
before God, against Job, as in Job i. 9, 10 : " Doth Job serve God for nought ? 
Has not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house," &c. Nor 
would God ever have implicitly allowed the objection to have been good, in 
case the accusation had been true, by allowing that that matter should be tried, 
and that Job should be so dealt with, that it might appear in the event, whether 
Job s respect to God was thus mercenary or no, and by putting the proof of the 
sincerity and goodness of his respect upon that issue. 

It is unreasonable to think otherwise, than that the first foundation of a true 
love to God, is that whereby he is in himself lovely, or worthy to be loved, or 
the supreme loveliness of his nature. This is certainly what makes him chiefly 
amiable. What chiefly makes a man, or any creature lovely, is his excellency ; 
and so what chiefly renders God lovely, and must undoubtedly be the chief 
ground of true love, is his excellency. God s nature, or the divinity, is infin 
itely excellent ; yea it is infinite beauty, brightness, and glory itself. But how 
can that be true love of this excellent and lovely nature, which is not built on 
the foundation of its true loveliness ? How can that be true love of beauty and 
brightness, which is not for beauty and brightness sake ? How can that be a 
true prizing of that which is in itself infinitely worthy and precious, which is 
not for the sake of its worthiness and preciousness ? This infinite excellency 
of the dirine nature, as it is in itself, is the true ground of all that is good in 
God in any respect ; but how can a man truly and rightly love God, without 
loving him for that excellency in him, which is the foundation of all that is in 
any manner of respect good or desirable in him 1 They whose affection to 
God is founded first on his profitableness to them, their affection begins at the 

* " There is a natural love to Christ, as to one that doth thee good, and for thine own ends ; and spir 
itual, fn- himself, whereby the Lord only is exalted." Shepard s Par. of the Ten Virgins, Part 1. p. 25 


wrong end ; they regard God only for the utmost limit of the stream of divine 
good, where it touches them, and reaches their interest ; and have no respect 
to that infinite glory of God s nature, which is the original good, and the true 
fountain of all good, the first fountain of all loveliness of every kind, and so the 
first foundation of all true love. 

A natural principle of self-love may be the foundation of great affections 
towards God and Christ, without seeing any thing of the beauty and glory of 
the divine nature. There is a certain gratitude that is a mere natural thing. 
Gratitude is one of the natural affections of the soul of man, as well as anger ; 
and there is a gratitude that arises from self-love, very much in the same man 
ner that anger does. Anger in men is an affection excited against another, or 
.n opposition to another, for something in him that crosses self-love : gratitude 
is an affection one has towards another, for loving him, or gratifying him, or 
for something in him that suits self-love. And there may be a kind of gratitude, 
without any true or proper love : as there may be anger without any proper 
hatred, as in parents towards their children, that they may be angry with, and 
yet at the same time have a strong habitual love to them. This gratitude is 
the principle which is an exercise in wicked men, in that which Christ declares 
concerning them, in the 6th of Luke, where he says, sinners love those that love 
them ; and which he declares concerning even the publicans, who were some of 
the most carnal and profligate sort of men, Matt. v. 46. This is the very principle 
that is wrought upon by bribery, in unjust judges ; and it is a principle that 
even the brute beasts do exercise ; a dog will love his master that is kind to 
him. And we see in innumerable instances, that mere nature is sufficient to 
excite gratitude in men, or to affect their hearts with thankfulness to others for 
kindnesses received ; and sometimes towards them, whom at the same time they 
have a habitual enmity against. Thus Saul was once and again greatly affect 
ed, and even dissolved with gratitude towards David, for sparing his life, and 
yet remained a habitual enemy to him. And as men, from mere nature, may 
be thus affected towards men ; so they may towards God. There is nothing 
hinders but that the same self-love may work after the same manner towards God 
as towards men. And we have manifest instances of it in Scripture ; as indeed 
the children of Israel, who sang God s praises at the Red Sea, but soon forgat 
God s works : and in Naaman the Syrian, who was greatly affected with the 
miraculous cure of his leprosy, so as to have his heart engaged thenceforward to 
worship the God that had healed him, and him only, excepting when it would 
expose him to be ruined in his temporal interest. So was Nebuchadnezzar greatly 
affected with God s goodness to him, in restoring him to his reason and kingdom, 
after his dwelling with the beasts. 

Gratitude being thus a natural principle, it renders ingratitude so much the 
more vile and heinous ; because it shows a dreadful prevalence of wickedness, 
when it even overbears and suppresses the better principles of human nature : 
as it is mentioned as an evidence of the high degree of the wickedness of many of 
the heathen, that they were without natural affection, Rom. ii. 3 1. But that the 
want of gratitude, or natural affection, is evidence of a high degree of vice, is 
no argument that all gratitude and natural affection has the nature of virtue, 
or saving grace. 

Self-love, through the exercise of mere natural gratitude, may be the foun 
dation of a sort of love to God many ways. A kind of love may arise from a 
false notion of God, that men have been eiucated in, or have some way im 
bibed ; as though he were only goodness and mercy, and not revenging justice ; 
or as though the exercises of his goodness were necessary, and not free and 


sovereign ; or as though his goodness were dependent on what is in them, and 
as it were constrained by them. Men on such grounds as these, may love a God 
of their own forming in their imaginations, when they are far from loving such 
a God as reigns in heaven. 

Again, self-love may be the foundation of an affection in men towards God, 
through a great insensibility of their state with regard to God, and for want of 
conviction of conscience to make them sensible how dreadfully they have provok 
ed God to anger ; they have no sense of the heinousness of sin, as against God, 
and of the infinite and terrible opposition of the holy nature of God against it : 
and so, having formed in their minds such a God as suits them, and thinking 
God to be such a one as themselves, who favors and agrees with them, they 
may like him very well, and feel a sort of love to him, when they are far from 
loving the true God. And men s affections may be much moved towards God, 
from self-love, by some remarkable outward benefits received from God ; as it 
was with Naaman, Nebuchadnezzar, and the children of Israel at the Red Sea. 

Again, a very high affection towards God may, and often does, arise in 
men, from an opinion of the favor and love of God to them, as the first founda 
tion of their love to him. After awakenings and distress, through fears of hell, 
they may suddenly get a notion, through some impression on their imagination, 
or immediate suggestion with or without texts of Scripture, or by some other 
means, that God loves them, and has forgiven their sins, and made them his 
children ; and this is the first thing that causes their affections to flow towards 
God and Jesus Christ : and then after this, and upon this foundation, many 
things in God may appear lovely to them, and Christ may seem excellent. And 
if such persons are asked, whether God appears lovely and amiable in himself, 
they would perhaps readily answer, yes ; when indeed, if the matter be strict 
ly examined, this good opinion of God was purchased and paid for before ever 
they afforded it, in the distinguishing and infinite benefits they imagined they 
received from God : and they allow God to be lovely in himself, no otherwise 
than that he has forgiven them, and accepted them, and loves them above most 
in the world, and has engaged to improve all his infinite power and wisdom in 
preferring, dignifying, and exalting them, and will do for them just as they 
would have him. When once they are firm in this apprehension, it is easy to 
own God and Christ to be lovely and glorious, and to admire and extol them. 
It is easy for them to own Christ to be a lovely person, and the best in the 
world, when they are first firm in it, that he, though Lord of the universe, is 
captivated with love to them, and has his heart swallowed up in them, and 
prizes them far beyond most of their neighbors, and loved them from eternity, 
and died for them, and will make them reign in eternal glory with him in hea 
ven. When this is the case with carnal men, their very lusts will make him 
seem lovely : pride itself will prejudice them in favor of that which they call 
Christ : selfish, proud man naturally calls that lovely that greatly contributes 
to his interest, and gratifies his ambition. 

And as this sort of persons begin, so they go on. Their affections are 
raised from time to time, primarily on this foundation of self-love and a conceit 
of God s love to them. Many have a false notion of communion with God, as 
though it were carried on by impulses, and whispers, and external representa 
tions, immediately made to their imagination. These things they often have; 
which they take to be manifestations of God s great love to them, and eviden 
ces of their high exaltation above others of mankind ; and so their affections 
are often renewedly set agoing. 

Whereas the exercises of true and holy love in the saints arise in another 


way. They do not first see that God loves them, and then see that he is love 
ly, but they first see that God is lovely, and that Christ is excellent and glorious, 
and their hearts are first captivated with this view, and the exercises of their 
love are wont from time to time to begin here, and to arise primarily from these 
views ; and then, consequentially, they see God s love, and great favor to 
them.* The saint s affections begin with God ; and self-love has a hand in 
these affections consequentially, and secondarily only. On the contrary, those 
false affections begin with self, and an acknowledgment of an excellency in 
God, and an affectedness with it, is only consequential and dependent. In the 
love of the true saint God is the lowest foundation ; the love of the excellency 
of his nature is the foundation of all the affections which come afterwards, 
wherein self-love is concerned as a handmaid : on the contrary, the hypocrite 
lays himself at the bottom of all, as the first foundation, and lays on God as the 
superstructure ; and even his acknowledgment of God s glory itself depends on 
his regard to his private interest. 

Self-love may not only influence men, so as to cause them to be affected 
with God s kindness to them separately ; but also with God s kindness to them 
as parts of a community : as a natural principle of self-love, without any other 
principle, may be sufficient to make a man concerned for the interest of the 
nation to which he belongs : as for instance, in the present war, self-love may 
make natural men rejoice at the successes of our nation, and sorry for their dis 
advantages, they being concerned as members of the body. So the same natu 
ral principle may extend further, and even to the world of mankind, and might 
be affected with the benefits the inhabitants of the earth have, beyond those of 
the inhabitants of other planets, if we knew that such there were, and how it 
was with them. So this principle may cause men to be affected with the bene 
fits that mankind have received beyond the fallen angels. And hence men, 
from this principle, may be much affected with the wonderful goodness of God 
to mankind, his great goodness in giving his Son to die for fallen m&i, and the 
marvellous love of Christ in suffering such great things for us, and with the great 
glory they hear God has provided in heaven for us ; looking on themselves as 
persons concerned and interested, as being some of this species of creatures so 
highly favored : the same principle of natural gratitude may influence men here, 
as in the case of personal benefits. 

But these things that I have said do by no means imply, that all gratitude 
to God is a mere natural thing, and that there is no such thing as a spiritual 
gratitude, which is a holy and divine affection : they imply no more, than that 
there is a gratitude which is merely natural, and that when persons have affec 
tions towards God only or primarily for benefits received, their affection is only 
the exercise of a natural gratitude. There is doubtless such a thing as a gra 
cious gratitude, which does greatly differ from all that gratitude which natural 
men experience. It differs in the following respects : 

1. True gratitude or thankfulness to God for his kindness to us, arises from 
a foundation laid before, of love to God for what he is in himself; whereas a 
natural gratitude has no such antecedent foundation. The gracious stirrings of 
grateful affection to God, for kindness received, always are from a stock of love 
already in the heart, established in the first place on other grounds, viz., God s 
own excellency ; and hence the affections are disposed to flow out on occasions 
of God s kindness. The saint, having seen the glory of God, and his heart 

* " There is a seeing of Christ after a man believes, which is Christ in his love, &c. But I speak 
of that first sight of him that precedes the second act of faith ; and it is an intuitive, or real sight of him 
us he is in his" glory." Shepard s Par. of the Ten Virgins, Part I. p. 74. 


being overcome by it, and captivated with love to him on that account, his 
heart hereby becomes tender, and easily affected with kindnesses received. If a 
man has no love to another, yet gratitude may be moved by some extraordinary 
kindness ; as in Saul towards David : but this is not the same kind of thing, as 
a man s gratitude to a dear friend, that his heart w r as before possessed with a 
high esteem of, and love to ; whose heart by this means became tender towards 
him, and more easily affected with gratitude, and affected in another manner. 
Self-love is not excluded from a gracious gratitude ; the saints love God for his 
kindness to them : Psal. cxvi. 1, " I love the Lord, because he hath heard the 
voice of my supplication." But something else is included j and another love 
prepares the way, and lays the foundation for these grateful affections. 

2. In a gracious gratitude men are aflected with the attribute of God s good 
ness and free grace, not only as they are concerned in it, or as it affects their 
interest, but as a part of the glory and beauty of God s nature. That wonder 
ful and unparalleled grace of God, which is manifested in the work of redemp 
tion, and shines forth in the face of Jesus Christ, is infinitely glorious in itself, 
and appears so to the angels ; it is a great part of the moral perfection and 
beauty of God s nature. This would be glorious, whether it were exercised 
towards us or no ; and the saint who exercises a gracious thankfulness for it, 
sees it to be so, and delights in it as such : though his concern in it serves the 
more to engage his mind and raise the attention and affection ; and self-love 
here assists as a handmaid, being subservient to higher principles, to lead forth 
the mind to the view and contemplation, and engage and fix the attention, and 
heighten the joy and love. God s kindness to them is a glass that God sets 
before them, wherein to behold the beauty of the attribute of God s goodness : 
the exercises and displays of this attribute, by this means, are brought near to 
them, and set right before them. So that in a holy thankfulness to God, the 
concern our interest has in God s goodness, is not the first foundation of our 
being affected with it ; that was laid in the heart before, in that stock of love 
which was to God, for his excellency in himself, that makes the heart tender 
and susceptive of such impressions from his goodness to us. Nor is our own 
interest, or the benefits we have received, the only, or the chief objective ground 
of the present exercises of the affection, but God s goodness, as part of the 
beauty of his nature ; although the manifestations of that lovely attribute, set 
immediately before our eyes, in the exercises of it for us, be the special occasion 
of the mind s attention to that beauty, at that time, and serves to fix the attention, 
and heighten the affection. 

Some may perhaps be ready to object against the whole that has been said, 
that text, 1 John iv. 19 : " We love him, because he first loved us," as though 
this implied that God s love to the true saints were the first foundation of their 
love to him. 

In answer to this, I would observe, that the apostle s drift in these words, is 
to magnify the love of God to us from hence, that he loved us, while we had 
no love to him.; as will be manifest to any one who compares this verse and the 
two following with the 9th, 10th, and llth verses. And that God loved us, 
when we had no love to him, the apostle proves by this argument, that God s 
love to the elect is the ground of their love to him. And that it is three ways. 
1. The saints love to God is the fruit of God s love to them, as it is the 
gift of that love. God gave them a spirit of love to him, because he loved 
them from eternity. And in this respect God s love to his elect is the first 
foundation of their love to him, as it is the foundation of their regeneration, 
and the whole of their redemption. 2. The exercises and discoveries that 

VOL. III. 13 


God has made of his wonderful love to sinful men, by Jesus Christ, in the work 
of redemption, is one of the chief manifestations, which God has made of the 
glory of his moral perfection, to both angels and men ; and so is one main ob 
jective ground of the love of both to God ; in a good consistence with what was 
said before. 3. God s love to a particular elect person, discovered by his con 
version, is a great manifestation of God s moral perfection and glory to him, and 
a proper occasion of the excitation of the love of holy gratitude, agreeable to 
what was before said. And that the saints do in these respects love God, because 
he first loved them, fully answers the design of the apostle s argument in that 
place. So that no good argument can be drawn from hence, against a spiritual 
and gracious love in the saints, arising primarily from the excellency of divine 
things, as they are in themselves, and not from any conceived relation they bear 
to their interest. 

And as it is \vith the love of the saints, so it is with their joy, and spiritual 
delight and pleasure : the first foundation of it is not any consideration or con 
ception of their interest in divine things ; but it primarily consists in the sweet 
entertainment their minds have in the view or contemplation of the divine and 
holy beauty of these things, as they are in themselves. And this is indeed the 
very main difference between the joy of the hypocrite, and the joy of the true 
saint. The former rejoices in himself; self is the first foundation of his joy : 
the latter rejoices in God. The hypocrite has his mind pleased and delighted, 
in the first place, with his own privilege, and the happiness which he supposes 
he has attained to, or shall attain to. True saints have their minds, in the first 
place, inexpressibly pleased and delighted with the sweet ideas of the glorious and 
amiable nature of the things of God. And this is the spring of all their delights, 
and the cream of all their pleasures : it is the joy of their joy. This sweet and 
ravishing entertainment they have in the view of the beautiful and delightful na 
ture of divine things, is the foundation of the joy that they have afterwards, in the 
consideration of their being theirs. But the dependence of the affections of hypo 
crites is in a contrary order : they first rejoice and are elevated with it, that they 
are made so much of by God ; and then on that ground he seems, in a sort, lovely 
to them. 

The first foundation of the delight a true saint has in God, is his own per 
fection ; and the first foundation of the delight he has in Christ, is his own 
beauty ; he appears in himself the chief among ten thousand, and altogether 
lovely. The way of salvation by Christ is a delightful way to him, for the 
sweet and admirable manifestations of the divine perfections in it : the holy doc 
trines of the gospel, by which God is exalted and man abased, holiness honored 
and promoted, and sin greatly disgraced and discouraged, and free and sove 
reign love manifested, are glorious doctrines in his eyes, and sweet to his taste, 
prior to any conception of his interest in these things. Indeed the saints rejoice 
in their interest in God, and that Christ is theirs : and so they have great reason , 
but this is not the first spring of their joy. They first rejoice in God as glorious 
and excellent in himself, and then secondarily rejoice in it, that so glorious a 
God is theirs. They first have their hearts filled with sweetness, from the view 
of Christ s excellency, and the excellency of his grace and the beauty of the 
way of salvation by him, and then they have a secondary joy in that so excel 
lent a Saviour, and such excellent grace are theirs.* But that which is the 
true saint s superstructure is the hypocrite s foundation. When they hear of the 

* Dr. Owen, on the Spirit, p. 199, speaking of a common work of the Spirit, says : " The effects of 
this work on the mind, which is the first subject, affected with it, proceeds not so far as to give delight, 
-complacency and satisfaction, in th? lovely spiritual nature and excellency of the things revealed unto it. 


wonderful things of the gospel, of God s great love in sending his Son, of Christ s 
dying love to sinners, and the great things Christ has purchased and promised 
to the saints, and hear these things livelily and eloquently set forth ; they mar 
hear with a great deal of pleasure, and be lifted up with what they hear ; but 
if their joy be examined, it will be found to have no other foundation than this, 
that they look upon these things as theirs, all this exalts them, they love to hear 
of the great love of Christ, so vastly distinguishing some from others ; lor self- 
love, and even pride itself makes them affect great distinction from others. No 
wonder, in this confident opinion of their own good estate, that they feel well 
under such doctrine, and are pleased in the highest degree, in hearing how much 
God and Christ makes of them. So that their joy is really a joy in themselves, 
and not in God. 

And because the joy of hypocrites is in themselves, hence it comes to pass 
that in their rejoicings and elevations, they are wont to keep their eye upon 
themselves : having received what they call spiritual discoveries or experiences, 
their minds are taken up about them, admiring their own experiences ; and 
what they are principally taken and elevated with, is not the -glory of God, or 
beauty of Christ, but the beauty of their experiences. They keep thinking with 
themselves, What a good experience is this ! What a great discovery is this ! 
What wonderful things have I met with ! And so they put their experiences in 
the place of Christ, and his beauty and fulness; and instead of rejoicing in Christ 
Jesus, they rejoice in their admirable experiences ; instead of feeding and feasting 
their souls in the view of what is without them, viz., the innate, sweet refresh 
ing amiableriess of the things exhibited in the gospel, their eyes are off from 
these things, or at least they view them only as it were sideways ; but the object 
that fixes their contemplation, is their experience ; and they are feeding their 
souls, and feasting a selfish principle, with a view of their discoveries : they 
take more comfort in their discoveries than in Christ discovered, which is the 
true notion of living upon experiences and frames, and not a using experiences 
as the signs on which they rely for evidence of their good estate, which some call 
living on experiences ; though it be very observable, that some of them who do 
so are most notorious for living upon experiences, according to the true notion of it. 

The affections of hypocrites are very often after this manner ; they are first 
much affected with some impression on their imagination, or some impulse which 
they take to be an immediate suggestion or testimony from God of his love and 
their happiness, and high privileges in some respect, either with or without a 
text of Scripture ; they are mightily taken with this as a great discovery, and 
hence arise high affections. And when their affections are raised, then they 
view those high affections, and call them great and wonderful experiences ; and 
they have a notion that God is greatly pleased with those affections ; and this 
affects them more ; and so they are affected with their affections. And thus 
their affections rise higher and higher, until they sometimes are perfectly swal 
lowed up : and self-conceit, and a fierce zeal rises withal ; and all is built like 
a castle in the air, on no other foundation but imagination, self-love, and pride. 

\nd as the thoughts of this sort of persons are, so is their talk ; for out of 
the abundance of their heart their mouth speaketh. As in their high affections 
they keep their eye upon the beauty of their experiences, and greatness of their 
rtttainments ; so they are great talkers about themselves. The true saint, when 
under great spiritual affections, from the fulness of his heart, is ready to be 

The true nature ot saving illumination consists in this, that it gives the mind such a direct intuitive in 
sight and prospect into spiritual things, as that in their own spiritual nature they suit, please, and sar.isly 
it ; so that it is transformed into them, cast into the mould of them, and rests in them." 


speaking much of God, and his glorious perfections and works, and of the 
beauty and amiableness of Christ, and the glorious things of the gospel : but 
hypocrites, in their high affections, talk more of the discovery, than they do of 
the thing discovered ; they are full of talk about the great things they have 
met with, the wonderful discoveries they have had, how sure they are of the 
love of God to them, how safe their condition is, and how they know they shall 
go to heaven, &c. 

A true saint, when in the enjoyment of true discoveries of the sweet glory 
of God and Christ, has his mind too much captivated and engaged by what he 
views without himself, to stand at that time to view himself, and his own attain 
ments : it would be a diversion and loss which he could not bear, to take his 
eye off from the ravishing object of his contemplation, to survey his own 
experience, and to spend time in thinking with himself, what a high attainment 
this is, and what a good story I now have to tell others. Nor does the pleasure 
and sweetness of his mind at that time chiefly arise from the consideration of 
the safety of his state, or any thing he has in view of his own qualifications, ex 
periences, or circumstances ; but from the divine and supreme beauty of what 
is the object of his direct view, without himself; which sweetly entertains, and 
strongly holds his mind. 

As the love anil joy of hypocrites are all from the source of self-love ; so 
it is with their other affections, their sorrow for sin, their humiliation and sub 
mission, their religious desires and zeal : every thing is, as it were, paid for 
beforehand, in God s highly gratifying their self-love, and their lusts, by making 
so much of them, and exalting them so highly, as things are in their imagination. 
It is easy for nature, as corrupt as it is, under a notion of being already some 
of the highest favorites of heaven, and having a God who does so protect them 
and favor them in their sins, to love this imaginary God that suits them so well, 
and to extol him, and submit to him, and to be fierce and zealous for him. The 
high affections of many are all built on the supposition of their being eminent 
saints. If that opinion which they have of themselves were taken away, if they 
thought they were some of the lower form of saints (though thev should yet 
suppose themselves to be real saints), their high affections would fall to the 
ground. If they only saw a little of the sinfulness and vileness of their own 
hearts, and their deformity, in the midst of their best duties and their best af 
fections, it would knock their affections on the head ; because their affections 
are built upon self, therefore self-knowledge would destroy them. But as to 
truly gracious affections, they are built elsewhere ; they have their foundation 
out of self in God and Jesus Christ ; and therefore a discovery of themselves, of 
their own deformity, and the meanness of their experiences, though it will purify 
their affections, yet it will riot destroy them, but in some respects sweeten and 
heighten them. 

III. Those affections that are truly holy, are primarily founded on the love 
liness of the moral excellency of divine things. Or (to express it otherwise) a 
love to divine things for the beauty and sweetness of their moral excellency, is 
the first beginning and spring of all holy affections. 

Here, for the sake of the more illiterate reader, I will explain what I mean 
by the moral excellency of divine things. 

And it may be observed, that the word moral is not to be understood here, 
according to the common and vulgar acceptation of the word, when men speak 
of morality, and a moral behavior ; meaning an outward conformity to the duties 
of the moral law, and especially the duties of the second table ; or intending 
no more at farthest, than such seeming virtues, as proceed from natural princi- 


pies, in opposition to those virtues that are more inward, spiritual, and divine ; 
as the honesty, justice, generosity, good nature, and public spirit of many of the 
heathen are called moral virtues, in distinction from the holy faith, love, humility, 
and heavenly-mindedness of true Christians : I say, the word moral is not to be 
understood thus in this place. 

But in order to a right understanding w r hat is meant, it must be observed, 
that divines commonly make a distinction between moral good and evil, and 
natural good and evil. By moral evil, they mean the evil of sin, or that evil 
which is against duty, and contrary to what is right and ought to be. By natural 
evil, they do not mean that evil which is properly opposed to duty ; but that 
which is contrary to mere nature, without any respect to a rule of duty. So the 
evil of suffering is called natural evil, such as pain and torment, disgrace, and 
the like : these things are contrary to mere nature, contrary to the nature of 
both bad and good, hateful to wicked men and devils, as well as good men and 
angels. So likewise natural defects are called natural evils, as if a child be 
monstrous, or a natural fool ; these are natural evils, but are not moral evils, be 
cause they have not properly the nature of the evil of sin. On the other hand, 
as by moral evil, divines mean the evil of sin, or that which is contrary to what 
is right ; so by moral good, they mean that which is contrary to sin, or that 
good in beings who have will and choice, whereby, as voluntary agents, they 
are, and act, as it becomes them to be and to act, or so as is most fit, and suitable, 
and lovely. By natural good, they mean that good that is entirely of a different 
kind from holiness or virtue, viz., that which perfects or suits nature, considering 
nature abstractly from-any holy or unholy qualifications, and without any relation 
to any rule or measure of right and wrong. 

Thus pleasure is a natural good ; so is honor, so is strength ; so is specula 
tive knowledge, human learning, and policy. Thus there is a distinction to be 
made between the natural good that men are possessed of, and their moral good ; 
and also between the natural and moral good of the angels in heaven : the great 
capacity of their understandings, and their great strength, and the honorable 
circumstances they are in as the great ministers of God s kingdom, whence they 
are called thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, is the natural good 
which they are possessed of ; but their perfect and glorious holiness and goodness, 
their pure and flaming love to God, and to the saints and to one another, is their 
moral good. So divines make a distinction between the natural and moral 
perfections of God : by the moral perfections of God, they mean those attributes 
which God exercises as a moral agent, or whereby the heart and will of God 
are good, right, and infinitely becoming and lovely ; such as his righteousness, 
truth, faithfulness, and goodness ; or, in one word, his holiness. By God s 
natural attributes or perfections, they mean those attributes, wherein, according 
to our way of conceiving of God, consists, not the holiness or moral goodness of 
God, but his greatness ; such as his power, his knowledge, whereby he knows 
all things, and his being eternal, from everlasting to everlasting, his omnipre 
sence, and his awful and terrible majesty. 

The moral excellency of an intelligent voluntary being is more immediately 
seated in the heart or will of moral agents. That intelligent being, whose will 
is truly right and lovely, is morally good or excellent. 

This moral excellency of an intelligent being, w r hen it is true and real, and 
not only external, or merely seeming and counterfeit, is holiness. Therefore ho 
liness comprehends all the true moral excellency of intelligent beings : there is 
no other true virtue, but real holiness. Holiness comprehends all the true vir 
tue of a good man, his love to God, his gracious love to men, his justice, his 


charity, and bowels of mercies, his gracious meekness and gentleness, and all 
other true Christian virtues that he has, belong to his holiness. So the holiness 
of God in the more extensive sense of the word, and the sense in which the 
word is commonly, if not universally used concerning God in Scripture, is the 
same with the moral excellency of the divine nature, or his purity and beauty 
as a moral agent, comprehending all his moral perfections, his righteousness, 
faithfulness, and goodness. As in holy men, their charity, Christian kindness 
and mercy, belong to their holiness ; so the kindness and mercy of God belong 
to his holiness. Holiness in man is but the image of God s holiness ; there are 
not more virtues belonging to the image than are in the original : derived holi 
ness has not more in it than is in that urfderived holiness which is its fountain : 
there is no more than grace for grace, or grace in the image, answerable to 
grace in the original. 

As there are two kinds of attributes in God, according to our way of con 
ceiving of him, his moral attributes, which are summed up in his holiness, and 
his natural attributes of strength, knowledge, &c., that constitute the greatness 
of God ; so there is a twofold image of God in man, his moral or spiritual image, 
which is his holiness, that is the image of God s moral excellency (which image 
was lost by the fall), and God s natural image, consisting in man s reason and 
understanding, his natural ability, and dominion over the creatures, which is the 
image of God s natural attribute. 

From w^hat has been said, it may easily be understood what I intend, when 
I say that a love to divine things for the beauty of their moral excellency, is 
the beginning and spring of all holy affections. It has been already shown, 
under the former head, that the first objective ground of all holy affections is the 
supreme excellency of divine things as they are in themselves, or in their own 
nature ; I now proceed further, and say more particularly, that that kind of ex 
cellency of the nature of divine things, which is the first objective ground of all 
holy affections, is their moral excellency, or their holiness. Holy persons, in 
the exercise of holy affections, do love divine things primarily for their holiness : 
they love God, in the first place, for the beauty of his holiness or moral perfec 
tion, as being supremely amiable in itself. Not that the saints, in the exercise 
of gracious affections, do love God only for his holiness ; all his attributes are 
amiable and glorious in their eyes ; they delight in every divine perfection; the 
contemplation of the infinite greatness, power, and knowledge, and terrible ma 
jesty of God, is pleasant to them. But their love to God for his holiness is what 
is most fundamental and essential in their love. Here it is that true love to 
God begins ; all other holy love to divine things flows from hence : this is the 
most essential and distinguishing thing that belongs to a holy love to God, with 
regard to the foundation of it. A love to God for the beauty of his moral at 
tributes, leads to, and necessarily causes a delight in God for all his attributes ; 
for his moral attributes cannot be without his natural attributes : for infinite ho 
liness supposes infinite wisdom, and an infinite capacity and greatness ; and all 
the attributes of God do as it were imply one another. 

The true beauty and loveliness of all intelligent beings does primarily and 
most essentially consist in their moral excellency or holiness. Herein consists 
the loveliness of the angels, without which, with all their natural perfections, 
their strength, and their knowledge, they would have no more loveliness than 
devils. It is a moral excellency alone, that is in itself, and on its own account, 
the excellency of intelligent beings : it is this that gives beauty to, or rather is 
the beauty of their natural perfections and qualifications. Moral excellency is 
the excellency of natural excellencies. Natural qualifications are either excel 


lent or otherwise, according as they are joined with moral excellency or not. 
Strength and knowledge do not render any being lovely, without holiness, but 
more hateful ; though they render them more lovely, when joined with holiness. 
Thus the elect angels are the more glorious for their strength and knowledge, 
because these natural perfections of theirs are sanctified by their moral perfec 
tion. But though the devils are very strong, and of great natural understand 
ing, they be not the more lovely : they are more terrible indeed, but not the 
more amiable ; but on the contrary, the more hateful. The holiness of an in 
telligent creature, is the beauty of all his natural perfections. And so it is in 
God, according to our way of conceiving of the divine Being : holiness is in a 
peculiar manner the beauty of the divine nature. Hence we often read of the 
beauty of holiness, Psal. xxix. 2, Psal. xcvi. 9, and ex. 3. This renders all 
his other attributes glorious and lovely. It is the glory of God s wisdom, that 
it is a holy wisdom, and not a wicked subtilty and craftiness. This makes his 
majesty lovely ; and not merely dreadful and horrible, that it is a holy majesty. 
It is the glory of God s immutability, that it is a holy immutability, and not an 
inflexible obstinacy in wickedness. 

And therefore it must needs be, that a sight of God s loveliness must begin 
here. A true love to God must begin with a delight in his holiness, and not with 
a delight in any other attribute ; for no other attribute is truly lovely without 
this, and no otherwise than as (according to our way of conceiving of God) it 
derives its loveliness from this ; and therefore it is impossible that other attri 
butes should appear lovely, in their true loveliness, until this is seen : and it is im 
possible that any perfection of the divine nature should be loved with true love 
until this is loved. If the true loveliness of all God s perfections arises from the 
loveliness of his holiness ; then the true love of all his perfections arises from 
the love of his holiness. They that do not see the glory of God s holiness, can 
not see any thing of the true glory of his mercy and grace : they see nothing 
of the glory of those attributes, as any excellency of God s nature, as it is in 
itself ; though they may be affected with them, and love them, as they concern 
their interest : for these attributes are no part of the excellency of God s nature, 
as that is excellent in itself, any otherwise than as they are included in his ho 
liness, more largely taken ; or as they are a part of his moral perfection. 

As the beauty of the divine nature does primarily consist in God s holiness, 
so does the beauty of all divine things. Herein consists the beauty of the saints, 
that they are saints, or holy ones ; it is the moral image of God in them, which 
is their beauty ; and that is their holiness. Herein consists the beauty and 
brightness of the angels of heaven, that they are holy angels, and so not devils. 
Dan. iv. 13, 17, 23, Matt. xxv. 31, Mark Viii. 38, Acts x. 22, Rev. xiv. 10. 
Herein consists the beauty of the Christian religion, above all other religions, 
that it is so holy a religion. Herein consists the excellency of the word of God, 
that it is so holy : Psal. cxix. 140, " Thy word is very pure, therefore thy ser 
vant loveth it." Ver. 128, " I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be 
right; and I hate every false way." Ver. 138, " Thy testimonies that thou 
hast commanded are righteous, and very faithful." And 172, " My tongue 
shall speak of thy word ; for all thy commandments are righteousness." And 
Psal. xix. 1 10, " The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul ; the 
testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the 
Lord are right, rejoicing the heart : the commandment of the Lord is pure, en 
lightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever : the judg 
ments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired 
are they than gold, yea, fen much fine gold : sweeter also than honey, and the 


honey comb." Herein does primarily consist the amiableness and beauty of 
the Lord Jesus, whereby he is the chief among ten thousands, and altogether 
lovely, even in that he is the holy one of God, Acts iii. 14, and God s holy 
child, Acts iv. 27, and he that is holy, and he that is true, Rev. iii. 7. All the 
spiritual beauty of his human nature, consisting in his meekness, lowliness, pa 
tience, heavenliness, love to God, love to men, condescension to the mean and 
vile, and compassion to tfye miserable, &c., all is summed up in his holiness. 
And the beauty of his divine nature, t)f which the beauty of his human nature is 
the image and reflection, does also primarily consist in his holiness. Herein 
primarily consists the glory of the gospel, that it is a holy gospel, and so bright 
an emanation of the holy beauty of God and Jesus Christ: herein consists the 
spiritual beauty of its doctrines, that they are holy doctrines, or doctrines accord 
ing to goodness. And herein does consist the spiritual beauty of the way of sal 
vation by Jesus Christ, that it is so holy a way. And herein chiefly consists the 
glory of heaven, that it is the holy city, the holy Jerusalem, the habitation of 
God s holiness, and so of his glory, Tsa. Ixiii. 15. All the beauties of the new 
Jerusalem, as it is described in the two last chapters of Revelation, are but 
various representations of this. See chap. xxi. 2, 10, 11, 18,21, 27, chap, 
xxii. 1, 3. 

And therefore it is primarily on account of this kind of excellency, that the 
saints do love all these things. Thus they love the word of God, because it is 
very pure. It is on this account they love the saints ; and on this account chief 
ly it is, that heaven is lovely to them, and those holy tabernacles of God amia 
ble in their eyes : it is on this account that they love God ; and on this account 
primarily it is, that they love Christ, and that their hearts delight in the doctrines 
of the gospel, and sweetly acquiesce in the way of salvation therein revealed.* 

Under the head of the first distinguishing characteristic of gracious affections, 
I observed, that there is given to those that are regenerated, a new supernatural 
sense, that is as it were a certain divine spiritual taste, which is, in its whole 
nature/diverse from any former kinds of sensation of the mind, as tasting is di 
verse from any of the other five senses, and that something is perceived by a 
true saint in the exercise of this new sense of mind, in spiritual and divine things, 
as entirely different from any thing that is perceived in them by natural men, as 
the sweet taste of honey is diverse from the ideas men get of honey by looking 
on it or feeling it. Now this that I have been speaking of, viz., the beauty of 
holiness, is that thing in spiritual and divine things, which is perceived by this 
spiritual sense, that is so diverse from all that natural men perceive in them ; 
this kind of beauty is the quality that is the immediate object of this spiritual 
sense ; this is the sweetness that is the proper object of this spiritual taste. The 
Scripture often represents the beauty and sweetness of holiness as the grand 
object of a spiritual taste and spiritual appetite. This was the sweet food of 
the holy soul of Jesus Christ, John iv. 32, 34 : " I have meat to eat that ye 
know not of. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his 
work." I know of no part of the holy Scriptures, where the nature and evi 
dences of true and sincere godliness are so much of set purpose and so fully and 

* " To the right closing with Christ s person, this is always required, to taste the bitterness of sin, as 
the greatest evil : else a man will never close with Christ, for his holiness in him, and from him, as the 
greatest good. For we told you, that that is the right closing with Christ for himself, when it is for his 
holiness. For ask a whorish heart, what beauty he sees in the person of Christ ; he will, after he has 
looked over his kingdom, his righteousness, and all his works, see a beauty in them, because they do serve 
his turn, to comfort him only. Ask a virgin, he will see his happiness in all ; but that which makes the 
Lord amiable is his holiness, which is in him to make him holy too. As in marriage, it is the personal 
beauty draws the heart. And hence I have thought it reason, that he that loves the brethren for a little 
grace, will love Chrrst much more." Sfiepard s Parable, Part I. p. 84. 


largely insisted on and delineated, as the 119th Psalm ; the Psalmist declares his 
design in the first verses of the Psalm, and he keeps his eye on this design all 
along, and pursues it to the end : but in this Psalm the excellency of holiness is 
represented as the immediate object of a spiritual taste, relish, appetite, and de 
light of God s law ; that grand expression and emanation of the holiness of God s 
nature, and prescription of holiness to the creature, is all along represented as the 
food and entertainment, and as the great object of the love, the appetite, the 
complacence and rejoicing of the gracious nature, which prizes God s command 
ments above gold, yea, the finest gold, and to which they are sweeter than the 
honey and honey comb ; and that upon account of their holiness, as 1 observed 
before. The same Psalmist declares, that this is the sweetness that a spiritual 
taste relishes in God s law : Psal. xix. 7, 8, 9, 10, " The law of the Lord is per 
fect ; the commandment of the Lord is pure ; the fear of the Lord is clean ; the 
statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart ; the judgments of the Lord 
are true, and righteous altogether ; more to be desired are they than gold, yea, 
than much fine gold ; sweeter also than honey, and the honey comb." 

A holy love has a holy object. The holiness of love consists especially in 
this, that it is the love of that which is holy, as holy, or for its holiness ; so that 
it is the holiness of the object, which is the quality whereon it fixes and termi 
nates. A holy nature must needs love that in holy things chiefly, which is 
most agreeable to itself; but surely that in divine things, which above all others 
is agreeable to a holy nature, is holiness, because holiness must be above all 
other things agreeable to holiness ; for nothing can be more agreeable to any 
nature than itself; holy nature must be above all things agreeable to holy nature : 
and so the holy nature of God and Christ, and the word of God, and other 
divine things, must be above all other things agreeable to the holy nature that 
is in the saints. 

And again, a holy nature doubtless loves holy things, especially on the ac 
count of that for which sinful nature has enmity against them ; but that for 
which chiefly sinful nature is at enmity against holy things, is their holiness ; 
it is for this, that the carnal mind is at enmity against God, and against the law 
of God, and the people of God. Now it is just arguing from contraries ; from 
contrary causes to contrary effects ; from opposite natures to opposite tendencies. 
We know that holiness is of a directly contrary nature to wickedness ; as there 
fore it is the nature of wickedness chiefly to oppose and hate holiness ; so it must 
be the nature of holiness chiefly to tend to, and delight in holiness. 

The holy nature in the saints and angels in heaven (where the true tenden 
cy of it best appears) is principally engaged by the holiness of divine things. 
This is the divine beauty which chiefly engages the attention, admiration, and 
praise of the bright and burning seraphim : Isa. vi. 3, " One cried unto another, 
and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his 
glory." And Rev. iv. 8, " They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, 
holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." So the glorified 
saints, chap. xv. 4, " Who shall not fear thee, Lord, and glorify thy name ? 
For thou only art holy." 

And the Scriptures represent the saints on earth as adoring God primarily 
on this account, and admiring and extolling all God s attributes, either as deriv 
ing loveliness from his holiness, or as being a part of it. Thus when they praise 
God for his power, his holiness is the beauty that engages them : Psal. xcviii. 1, 
" O sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvellous things : his 
right hand, and his holy arm hath gotten him the victory." So when they 
praise him for his justice and terrible m? ty : Psal. xcix. 2, 3, " The Lord is 

VOL III. 14 


great in Zion, and he is high above all people. Let them praise thy great and 
terrible name ; for it is holy." Ver. 5, " Exalt ye the Lord our God, and wor 
ship at his footstool ; for he is holy. Ver. 8, 9, " Thou wast a God that 
forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions. Exalt ye 
the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill : for the Lord our God, is holy." 
So when they praise God for his mercy and faithfulness: Psal. xcvii. 11, 12, 
" Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice 
in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness." 
1 Sam. ii. 2, " There is none holy as the Lord : for there is none besides thee ; 
neither is there any rock like our God." 

By this therefore all may try their affections, and particularly their love and 
joy. Various kinds of creatures show the difference of their natures, very much 
in the different things they relish as their proper good, one delighting in that 
which another abhors. Such a difference is there between true saints, and natural 
men : natural men have no sense of the goodness and excellency of holy things, 
at least for their holiness ; they have no taste for that kind of good ; and so may 
be said not to know that divine good, or not to see it ; it is wholly hid from 
them ; but the saints, by the mighty power of God, have it discovered to them ; 
they have that supernatural, most noble and divine sense given them, by which 
they perceive it j and it is this that captivates their hearts, and delights them 
above all things ; it is the most amiable and sweet thing to the heart of a triu 
saint, that is to be found in heaven or earth ; that which above all others attracts 
and engages his soul ; and that wherein, above all things, he places his happi 
ness, and which he lots upon for solace and entertainment to his mind, in this 
world, and full satisfaction and blessedness in another. By this, you may ex 
amine your love to God, and to Jesus Christ, and to the word of God, and your 
joy in them, and also your love to the people of God, and your desires after 
heaven ; whether they be from a supreme delight in this sort of beauty, without 
being primarily moved from your imagined interest in them, or expectations 
from them. There are many high affections, great seeming love and rapturous 
joys, which have nothing of this holy relish belonging to them. 

Particularly, by what has been saidyou may try your discoveries of the glory 
of God s grace and love, and your affections arising from them. The grace of 
God may appear lovely two ways ; either as bonum utile, a profitable good to 
me, that which greatly serves my interest, and so suits my self-love ; or as bonum 
formosum, a beautiful good in itself, and part of the moral and spiritual excel 
lency of the divine nature. In this latter respect it is that the true saints have 
their hearts affected, and love captivated by the free grace of God in the 
first place. 

From the things that have been said, it appears, that if persons have a great 
sense of the natural perfections of God, and are greatly affected with them, or 
have any other sight or sense of God than that which consists in, or implies a 
sense of the beauty of his moral perfections, it is no certain sign of grace ; as 
particularly men s having a great sense of the awful greatness and terrible ma 
jesty of God ; for this is only God s natural perfection, and what men may see, 
and yet be entirely blind to the beauty of his moral perfection, and have nothing 
of that spiritual taste which relishes this divine sweetness. 

It has been shown already, in what was said upon the first distinguishing 
mark of gracious affections, that that which is spiritual, is entirely different in 
its nature, from all that it is possible any graceless person should be the subject 
of, while he continues graceless. But it is possible that those who are wholly 
without grace should have a clear sight and very great and affecting sense of 


God s greatness, his mighty power, and awful majesty ; for this is what the 
devils have, though they have lost the spiritual knowledge of God, consisting in 
a sense of the amiableness of his moral perfections ; they are perfectly destitute 
of any sense or relish of that kind of beauty, yet they have a very great know 
ledge of the natural glory of God (if I may so speak), or his awful greatness 
and majesty; this they behold, and are affected with the apprehensions of, and 
therefore tremble before him. This glory of God all shall behold at the day of 
judgment ; God will make all rational beings to behold it to a great degree in 
deed, angels and devils, saints and sinners : Christ will manifest his infinite 
greatness, and awful majesty, to every one, in a most open, clear, and convinc 
ing manner, and in a light that none can resist, " when he shall come in the 
glory of his Father, and every eye shall see him ;" when they shall cry to the 
mountains to fall upon them, to hide them from the face of him that sits upon 
the throne, they are represented as seeing the glory of God s majesty, Isa. ii. 10, 
19, 21. God will make all his enemies to behold this, and to live in a most 
clear and affecting view of it, in hell, to all eternity. God hath often declared 
his immutable purpose to make all his enemies to know him in this respect, in 
so often annexing these words to the threatenings he denounces against them : 
" And they shall know that 1 am the Lord ;" yea he hath sworn that all men 
shall see his glory in this respect : Numb. xiv. 21, " As truly as I live, all the 
earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord." And this kind of manifesta 
tion of God is very often spoken of in Scripture, as made, or to be made, in the 
sight of God s enemies in this world, Exod. ix. 16, and chap. xiv. 18, and xv. 
16, Psal. Ixvi. 3, and xlvi. 10, and other places innumerable. This was a 
manifestation which God made of himself in the sight of that wicked congrega 
tion at Mount Sinai ; deeply affecting them* with it ; so that all the people in 
the camp trembled. Wicked men and devils will see, and have a great sense of 
every thing that appertains to the glory of God, but only the beauty of his moral 
perfection ; they will see his infinite greatness and majesty, his infinite power, 
and will be fully convinced of his omniscience, and his eternity and immuta 
bility ; and they will see and know every thing appertaining to his moral attri 
butes themselves, but only the beauty and amiableness of them ; they \vill see 
and know that he is perfectly just, and righteous, and true, and that he is a holy 
God, of purer eyes than to behold evil, who cannot look on iniquity ; and they 
will see the wonderful manifestations of his infinite goodness and free grace to 
the saints ; and there is nothing will be hid from their eyes, but only the beauty 
of these moral attributes, and that beauty of the other attributes, which arises 
from it. And so natural men in this world are capable of having a very affect 
ing sense of every thing else that appertains to God, but this only. Nebuchad 
nezzar had a great and very affecting sense of the infinite greatness and awful 
majesty of God, of his supreme and absolute dominion, and mighty and irresisti 
ble power, and of his sovereignty, and that he, and all the inhabitants of the 
earth were nothing before him; and also had a great conviction in his con 
science of his justice, and an affecting sense of his great goodness, Dan. iv. 1, 2, 
3, 34, 35, 37. And the sense that Darius had of God s perfections, seems to 
be very much like his, Dan. vi. 25, &c. But the saints and angels do behold 
the glory of God consisting in the beauty of his holiness ; and ii is this sight 
only that will melt and humbJe the hearts of men, and wean them from the 
world, and draw them to God, and effectually change them. A sight of the 
awful greatness of God, may overpower men s strength, and be more than they 
can endure^; but if the moral beauty of God be hid, the enmity of the heart will 
remain in its full strength, no love will be enkindled, all will not be effectual 


to gam the will, but that will remain inflexible ; whereas the first glimpse of 
the moral and spiritual glory of God shining into the heart, produces all these 
effects as it were with omnipotent power, which nothing can withstand. 

The sense that natural men may have of the awful greatness of God may 
affect them various ways ; it may not only terrify them, but it may elevate them, 
and raise their joy and praise, as their circumstances may be. This will be the 
natural effect of it, under the real or supposed receipt of some extraordinary 
mercy from God, by the influence of mere principles of nature. It has been 
shown already, that the receipt of kindness may, by the influence of natural 
principles, affect the heart with gratitude and praise to God ; but if a person, at 
the same time that he receives remarkable kindness from God, has a sense of his 
infinite greatness, and that he is but nothing in comparison of him, surely this 
will naturally raise his gratitude and praise the higher, for kindness to one so 
much inferior. A sense of God s greatness had this effect upon Nebuchadnezzar, 
under the receipt of that extraordinary favor of his restoration, after he had been 
driven from men, and had his dwelling with the beasts : a sense of God s ex 
ceeding greatness raises his gratitude very high ; so that he does, in the most 
lofty terms, extol and magnify God, and calls upon all the w r orld to do it with 
him ; and much more if a natural man, at the same time that he is greatly af 
fected with God s infinite greatness and majesty, entertains a strong conceit that 
this great God has made him his child and special favorite, and promised him 
eternal glory in his highest love, will this have a tendency, according to the 
course of nature, to raise his joy and praise to a great height. 

Therefore, it is beyond doubt that too much weight has been laid, by many 
persons of late, on discoveries of God s greatness, awful majesty, and natural 
perfection, operating after this manner, without any real view of the holy 
majesty of God. And experience does abundantly witness to what reason and 
Scripture declare as to this matter ; there having been very many persons, who 
have seemed to be overpowered with the greatness and majesty of God. and 
consequently elevated in the manner that has been spoken of, who have been 
very far from having appearances of a Christian spirit and temper, in any 
manner of proportion, or fruits in practice in any wise agreeable ; but their 
discoveries have worked in a way contrary to the operation of truly spiritual 

Not that a sense of God s greatness and natural attributes is not exceeding 
useful and necessary. For, as I observed before, this is implied in a manifes 
tation of the beauty of God s holiness. Though that be something beyond it, it 
supposes it, as the greater supposes the less. And though natural men may 
have a sense of the natural perfections of God ; yet undoubtedly this is more 
frequent and common with the saints than with natural men ; and grace tends 
to enable men to see these things in a better manner than natural men do ; and 
not only enables them to see God s natural attributes, but that beauty of those 
attributes, which (according to our way of conceiving of God) is derived from 
his holiness. 

IV. Gracious affections do arise from the mind s being enlightened, richly 
and spiritually to understand or apprehend divine things. 

Holy affections are not heat without light ; but evermore arise from the in 
formation of the understanding, some spiritual instruction that the mind receives, 
some light or actual knowledge. The child of God is graciously affected, be 
cause he sees and understands something more of divine things than he did 
before, more of God or Christ, and of the glorious things exhibited in the gos 
pel j he has some clearer and better view than he had before, when he was 


not affected : either he receives some understanding of divine things that is new 
to him ; or has his former knowledge renewed after the view was decayed : 1 
John iv. 7, " Every one that loveth, knoweth God." Phil. i. 9, " I pray that 
your love may abound more and more in knowledge, and in all judgment." 
Rom. x. 2, " They have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." Col. 
iii. 10, " The new man, which is renewed in knowledge." Psalm xliii. 3, 4, 
K send out thy light and thy truth ; let them lead me, let them bring me unto 
Ihy holy hill." John vi. 45, " It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all 
taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and learned of the Fa 
ther, cometh unto me." Knowledge is the key that first opens the hard heart, 
and enlarges the affections, and so opens the way for men into the kingdom of 
heaven ; Luke xi. 52, " Ye have taken away the key of knowledge." 

Now there are many affections which do not arise from any light in the 
understanding. And when it is thus, it is a sure evidence that these affections 
are not spiritual, let them be ever so high.* Indeed they have some new ap 
prehensions which they had not before. Such is the nature of man, that it is 
impossible his mind should be affected, unless it be by something that he appre 
hends, or that his mind conceives of. But in many persons those apprehensions 
or conceptions that they have, wherewith they are affected, have nothing of the 
nature of knowledge or instruction in them. As for instance, when a person is 
affected with a lively idea, suddenly excited in his mind, of some shape or very 
beautiful pleasant form of countenance, or some shining light, or other glorious 
outward appearance : here is something apprehended or conceived by the mind ; 
but there is nothing of the nature of instruction in it ; persons become never the 
wiser by such things, or more knowing about God, or a Mediator between God 
and man, or the way of salvation by Christ, or any thing contained in any of 
the doctrines of the gospel. Persons by these external ideas have no further 
acquaintance with God, as to any of the attributes or perfections of his nature ; 
nor have they any further understanding of his word, or any of his ways or 
works. Truly spiritual and gracious affections are not raised after this manner ; 
these arise from the enlightening of the understanding to understand the things 
that are taught of God and Christ, in a new manner, the coming to a new un 
derstanding of the excellent nature of God, and his wonderful perfections, some 
new view of Christ in his spiritual excellencies and fulness, or things opened to 
him in a new manner, that appertain to the way of salvation by Christ, where 
by he now sees how it is, and understands those divine and spiritual doctrines 
which once were foolishness to him. Such enlightenings of the understanding 
as these, are things entirely different in their nature from strong ideas of shapes 
and colors, and outward brightness and glory, or sounds and voices. That aL 
gracious affections do arise from some instruction or enlightening of the under 
standing, is therefore a further proof, that affections which arise from such im 
pression on the imagination, are not gracious affections, betides the things ob 
served before, which make this evident. 

Hence also it appears, that affections arising from texts of Scripture coming 
to the mind are vain, when no instruction received in the understanding from 
those texts, or any thing taught in those texts, is the ground of the affection, 
but the manner of their coming to the mind. When Christ makes the Scripturo 
a means of the heart s burning with gracious affection, it is by opening the 

* " Many that have had mighty strong affections at first conversion, afterwards become dry, and 
wither, and consume, and pine, and die away : and now their hypocrisy is manifest ; if not to all the 
world by open profaneness.yet to the discerning eye of living Christians, by a formal, barren, unsavor 1 , 
unfruitful heart and course ; because they never had light to conviction enough as yet." 


Scriptures to their understandings ; Luke xxiv. 32, " Did not our heart burn 
within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the 
Scriptures ?" It appears also that the affection which is occasioned by the com 
ing of a text of Scripture must be vain, when the affection is founded on some 
thing that is supposed to be taught by it, which really is not contained in it, 
nor in any other Scripture ; because such supposed instruction is not real instruc 
tion, but a mistake and misapprehension of the rnind. As for instance, \vhen 
persons suppose that they are expressly taught by some Scripture coming to 
their minds, that they in particular are beloved of God, or that their sins are 
forgiven, that God is their Father, and the like, this is a mistake or misappre 
hension ; for the Scripture nowhere reveals the individual persons who are be 
loved, expressly ; but only by consequence, by revealing the qualifications of 
persons that are beloved of God : and ^therefore this matter is not to be learned 
from Scripture any other way than by consequence, and from these qualifica 
tions ; for things are not to be learned from the Scripture any other way than 
they are taught in the Scripture. 

Affections really arise from ignorance, rather than instruction, in these in 
stances which have been mentioned ; as likewise in some others that might be 
mentioned. As some, when they find themselves free of speech in prayer, they 
call it God s being w y ith them ; and this affects them more ; and so their affec 
tions are set agoing and increased ; when they look not into the cause of this 
freedom of speech, which may arise many other ways besides God s spiritual 
presence. So some are much affected with some apt thoughts that come into 
their minds about the Scripture, and call it the Spirit of God teaching them. 
So they ascribe many of the workings of their own minds, which they have a 
high opinion of, and are pleased and taken with, to the special immediate influ 
ences of God s Spirit ; and so are mightily affected with their privilege. And 
there are some instances of persons, in whom it seems manifest, that the first 
ground of their affection is some bodily sensation. The animal spirits, by some 
cause (and probably sometimes by the devil) are suddenly and unaccountably 
put into a very agreeable motion, causing persons to feel pleasantly in their 
bodies ; the animal spirits are put into such a motion as is wont to be connected 
with the exhilaration of the mind ; and the soul, by the laws of the union of 
soul and body, hence feels pleasure. The motion of the animal spirits does not 
first arise from any affection or apprehension of the mind whatsoever ; but the 
very first thing that is felt, is an exhilaration of the animal spirits, and a pleas 
ant external sensation it may be in their breasts. Hence through ignorance, 
the person being surprised, begins to think, surely this is the Holy Ghost com 
ing into him. And then the mind begins to be affected and raised. There is 
first great joy ; and then many other affections, in a very tumultuous manner, 
putting all nature, both body and mind, into a mighty ruffle. For though, as I 
observed before, it is the soul only that is the seat of the affections ; yet this 
hinders not but that bodily sensations may, in this manner, be an occasion of 
affections in the mind. 

And if men s religious affections do truly arise from some instruction or 
light in the understanding ; yet the affection is not gracious, unless the light 
which is the ground of it be spiritual. Affections may be excited by that un 
derstanding of things, which they obtain merely by human teaching, with the 
common improvement of the faculties of the mind. Men may be much affect 
ed by knowledge of things of religion that, they obtain this way ; as some 
philosophers have been mightily affect^, and almost carried beyond themselves^ 
by the discoveries they have made in rnaaiematics and natural philosophy. So 


men may be much affected from common illuminations of the Spirit of God, in 
Which God assists men s faculties to a greater degree of that kind of under 
standing of religious matters, which they have in some degree, by only the or 
dinary exercise and improvement of their own faculties. Such illuminations 
may much affect the mind ; as in many whom we read of in Scripture, that 
were once enlightened ; but these affections are not spiritual. 

There is such a thing, if the Scriptures are of any use to teach us any thing, 
as a spiritual, supernatural understanding of divine things, that is peculiar to 
the saints, and which those who are not saints have nothing of. It is certainly 
a kind of understanding, apprehending or discerning of divine things, that natu 
ral men have nothing of, which the apostle speaks of, 1 Cor. ii. 14 : " But the 
natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ; for they are foolish 
ness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discern 
ed." It is certainly a kind of seeing or discerning spiritual things peculiar to 
the saints, which is spoken of, 1 John iii. 6 : " Whosoever sinneth, hath not 
seen him, neither known him. 3 3 John 11, " He that doeth evil, hath not seen 
God."- And John vi. 40, " This is the will of him that sent me, that every 
one that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life." 
Chap. xiv. 19, " The world seeth me no more ; but ye see me." Chap. xvii. 3, 
" This is eternal life, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus 
Christ whom thou hast sent." Matt. xi. 27, " No man knoweth the Son, but 
the Father ; neither knoweth any man the Father, but the Son, and he to 
whomsoever the Son will reveal him." John xii. 45, " He that seeth me, seeth 
him that sent me." Psal. ix. 10, " They that know thy name, will put their 
trust in thee." Phil. iii. 8, " I count all things but loss, for the excellency of 
the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord :" ver. 10, " That I may know him." 
And innumerable other places there are, all over the Bible, which show r the 
same. And that there is such a thing as an understanding of divine things, 
which in its nature and kind is wholly different from all knowledge that natu 
ral men have, is evident from this, that there is an understanding of divine 
things, which the Scripture calls spiritual understanding, Col. i. 9 : " We do 
not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you may be filled with the know 
ledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." It has been al 
ready shown, that that which is spiritual, in the ordinary use of the word in the 
New Testament, is entirely different in nature and kind, from all which natural 
men are, or can be the subjects of. 

From hence it may be surely inferred wherein spiritual understanding con 
sists. For if there be in the saints a kind of apprehension or perception, which 
is in its nature perfectly diverse from all that natural men have, or that it is 
possible they should have, until they have a new nature ; it must consist in 
their having a certain kind of ideas or sensations of mind, which are simply 
diverse from all that is or can be in the minds of natural men. And that is 
the same thing as to say, that it consists in the sensations of a new spiritual 
sense, which the souls of natural men have not; as is evident by what has 
been before, once and again observed. But I have already shown what that 
new spiritual sense is which the saints have given them in regeneration, and 
what is the object of it. I have shown that the immediate object of it is the 
supreme beauty and excellency of the nature of divine things, as they are in 
themselves. And this is agreeable to the Scripture ; the apostle very plainly 
teaches, that the great thing discovered by spiritual light, and understood by 
spiritual knowledge, is the glory of divine things, 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4 : " But if our 
gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost ; in whom the god of this world 


hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious 
gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them ;" together 
with ver. 6 : " For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, 
hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of 
God, in the face of Jesus Christ." And chap. iii. 18, preceding: ", But we all 
with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into 
the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." And 
it must needs be so, for, as has been before observed, the Scripture often teaches, 
that all true religion summarily consists in the love of divine things. And 
therefore that kind of understanding or knowledge, which is the proper founda 
tion of true religion, must be the knowledge of the loveliness of divine things. 
For doubtless, that knowledge which is the proper foundation of love, is the 
knowledge of loveliness. What that beauty of divine things is, which is the 
proper and immediate object of a spiritual sense of mind, was showed under 
the last head insisted on, viz., that it is the beauty of their moral perfection. 
Therefore it is in the view or sense of this, that spiritual understanding does 
more immediately and primarily consist. And indeed it is plain it can be no 
thing else ; for (as has been shown) there is nothing pertaining to divine things, 
besides the beauty of their moral excellency, and those properties and qualities 
of divine things which this beauty is the foundation of, but what natural men 
and devils can see and know, and will, know fully and clearly to all eternity. 

From what has been said, therefore, we come necessarily to this conclusion, 
concerning that wherein spiritual understanding consists, viz., that it consists 
in " a sense of the heart, of the supreme beauty and sweetness of the holiness 
or moral perfection of divine things, together with all that discerning and 
knowledge of things of religion, that depends upon, and flows from such a 

Spiritual understanding consists primarily in a sense of heart of that spirit 
ual beauty. T say, a sense of heart; for it is not speculation merely that is 
concerned in this kind of understanding ; nor can there be a clear distinction 
made between the two faculties of understanding and will, as acting distinctly 
and separately, in this matter. When the mind is sensible of the sweet beauty 
and amiableness of a thing, that implies a sensibleness of sweetness and delight 
in the presence of the idea of it : and this sensibleness of the amiableness or 
delightfulness of beauty, carries in the very nature of it the sense of the heart ; 
or an effect and impression the soul is the subject of, as a substance possessed of 
taste, inclination and will. 

There is a distinction to be made between a mere notional understanding, 
wherein the mind only beholds things in the exercise of a speculative faculty ; 
and the sense of the heart, wherein the mind does not only speculate and be 
hold, but relishes and feels. That sort of knowledge, by which a man has a 
sensible perception of amiableness and loathsomeness, or of sweetness and nau- 
seousness, is not jiist the same sori^ of knowledge with that by which he knows 
what a triangle is, and what a square -is. The one is mere speculative know 
ledge, the other sensible knowledge, in which more than the mere intellect is 
concerned ; the heart is the proper subject of it, or the soul, as a being that not 
only beholds, but has inclination, and is pleased or displeased. And yet there 
is the nature of instruction in it ; as he that has perceived the sweet taste of 
honey, knows much more about it, than he who has only looked upon, and 
felt of it. 

The apostle seems to make a distinction between mere speculative know 
ledge of the things of religion, and spiritual knowledge, in calling that the form 


of knowledge, and of the truth in the law, Rom. ii. 20, " \Vh:ch hast the form 
of knowledge and of the truth in the law." The latter is often represented by 
relishing, smelling, or tasting : 2 Cor. ii. 14, " Now thanks be to God, which 
always causeth us to triumph in Christ Jesus, and maketh manifest the savor of 
his knowledge in every place." Matt. xvi. 23, " Thou savorest not the things 
that be of God, but those things that be of men." 1 Pet. ii. 2, 3, " As new born 
babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby ; if so be 
ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." Cant. i. 3, " Because of the savor of 
thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the 
virgins love thee ;" compared with 1 John ii. 20, " But ye have an unction 
from the Holy One, and ye know all things." 

Spiritual understanding primarily consists in this sense, of taste of the moral 
beauty of divine things ; so that no knowledge can be called spiritual, any fur 
ther than it arises from this, and has this in it. But secondarily it includes all that 
discerning and knowledge of things of religion, which depend upon and flow 
from such a sense. 

When the true beauty and amiableness of the holiness or true moral good 
that is in divine things is discovered to the soul, it as it were opens a new world 
to its views. This shows the glory of all the perfections of God, and of every 
thing appertaining to the divine Being. For, as was observed before, the 
beauty of all arises from God s moral perfection. This shows the glory of all 
God s works, both of creation and providence. For it is the special glory of 
them, that God s holiness, righteousness, faithfulness, and goodness, are so mani 
fested in them ; and without these moral perfections, there would be no glory 
in that power and skill with which they are wrought. The glorifying of God s 
moral perfections, is the special end of all the works of God s hands. By this 
sense of the moral beauty of divine things, is understood the sufficiency of Christ 
as a mediator ; for it is only by the discovery of the beauty of the moral perfec 
tion of Christ, that the believer is let into the knowledge of the excellency of 
his person, so as to know any thing more of it than the devils do ; and it is only 
by the knowledge of the excellency of Christ s person, that any know his suffi 
ciency as a mediator ; for the latter depends upon, and arises from the former. It is 
by seeing the excellency of Christ s person, that the saints are made sensible ol 
the preciousness of his blood, and its sufficiency to atone for sin ; for therein 
consists the preciousness of Christ s blood, that it is the blood of so excellent 
and amiable a person. And on this depends the meritoriousness of his obedi 
ence, and sufficiency and prevalence of his intercession. By this sight of the 
moral beauty of divine things, is seen the beauty of the way of salvation by 
Christ ; for that consists in the beauty of the moral perfections of God, which 
wonderfully shines forth in every step of this method of salvation, from begin 
ning to end. By this is seen the fitness and suitableness of this way : for this 
wholly consists in its tendency to deliver us from sin and hell, and to bring us 
to the happiness which consists in the possession and enjoyment of moral good, 
in a way sweetly agreeing with God s moral perfections. And in the way s 
being contrived so as to attain these ends, consists the excellent wisdom of 
that way. By this is seen the excellency of the word of God. Take away all 
the moral beauty and sweetness in the word, and the Bible is left wholly a dead 
letter, a dry, lifeless, tasteless thing. By this is seen the true foundation of our 
duty, the worthiness of God to be so esteemed, honored, loved, submitted to. 
and served, as he requires of us, and the amiableness of the duties themselves 
that are required of us. And by this is seen the true evil of sin; for he who 
sees the beauty of holiness, must necessarily see the hatefulness of sin, its con- 

VOL. Ill 15 


trary. By this men understand the true glory of heaven, which consists in the 
beauty and happiness that is in holiness. By this is seen the amiableness and 
happiness of both saints and angels. He that sees the beauty of holiness, or 
true moral good, sees the greatest and most important thing in the world, which 
is the fulness of all things, without which all the world is empty, no better than 
nothing, yea, worse than nothing. Unless this is seen, nothing is seen that is 
worth the seeing ; for there is no other true excellency or beauty. Unless this be 
understood, nothing is understood that is worthy of the exercise of the noble 
faculty of understanding. This is the beauty of the Godhead, and the divinity 
of divinity (if 1 may so speak), the good of the infinite fountain of good ; with 
out which, God himself (if that were possible) would be an infinite evil ; with 
out which we ourselves had better never have been ; and without which there 
had better have been no being. He therefore in effect knows nothing, that 
knows not this ; his knowledge is but the shadow of knowledge, or the form of 
knowledge, as the apostle calls it. Well therefore may the Scriptures represent 
those who are destitute of that spiritual sense by which is perceived the beauty 
of holiness, as totally blind, deaf, and senseless, yea, dead. And well may re 
generation, in which this divine sense is given to the soul by its Creator, be 
represented as opening the blind eyes, and raising the dead, and bringing a 
person into a new world. For if what has been said be considered, it will 
be manifest, that when a person has this sense and knowledge given him, he 
will view nothing as he did before; though before he knew all things " after 
the flesh, yet henceforth he will know them so no more ; and he is become a 
( new creature ; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new ;" 
agreeable to 2 Cor. v. 16, 17. 

And besides the things that have been already mentioned, there arises from 
this sense of spiritual beauty, all true experimental knowledge of religion, 
which is of itself as it were a new world of knowledge. He that sees not the 
beauty of holiness, knows not what one of the graces of God s Spirit is, he is 
destitute of any idea or conception of all gracious exercises of the soul, and all 
holy comforts and delights, and all effects of the saving influences of the Spirit 
of God on the heart ; and so is ignorant of the greatest works of God, the most 
important and glorious effects of his power upon the creature ; and also is 
wholly ignorant of the saints as saints, he knows not what they are ; and in 
effect is ignorant of the whole spiritual world. 

Things being thus, it plainly appears, that God s implanting that spiritual 
supernatural sense \vhich has been spoken of, makes a great change in a man. 
And were it not for the very imperfect degree, in which this sense is commonly 
given at first, or the small degree of this glorious light, that first dawns upon 
the soul ; the change made by this spiritual opening of the eyes in conversion, 
would be much greater and more remarkable every way, than if a man, who 
had been born blind, and with only the other four senses, should continue so 
a long time, and then at once should have the sense of seeing imparted to him, 
in the midst of the clear light of the sun, discovering a world of visible objects. 
For though sight be more noble than any of the other external senses, yet this 
spiritual sense which has been spoken of, is infinitely more noble than that, or 
any other principle of discerning that a man naturally has, and the object of 
this sense infinitely greater and more important. 

This sort of understanding or knowledge, is that knowledge of divine things 
from whence all truly gracious affections do proceed ; by which therefore all af 
fections are to be tried. Those affections that arise wholly from any other kind of 
knowledge, or do result from any other kind of apprehensions of mind, are vain. 


From what has been said, may be learned wherein the most essential differ 
ence lies between that light or understanding which is given by the common 
influences of the Spirit of God, on the hearts of natural men, and that savino- 
instruction which is given to the saints. The latter primarily and most essen^ 
tially lies in beholding the holy beauty that is in divine things ; which is the only 
true moral good, and which the soul of fallen man is by nature totally blind to. 
The former consists only in a further understanding, through the assistance of 
natural principles, of those things which men may know, in some measure, by 
the alone ordinary exercise of their faculties. And this knowledge consists 
only in the knowledge of those things pertaining to religion, which are natural. 
Thus for instance, in those awakenings of the conscience, that natural men are 
often subject to, the Spirit of God gives no knowledge of the true moral beauty 
which is in divine things ; but only assists the mind to a clearer idea of the 
guilt of sin, or its relation to punishment, and connection with the evil of suffer 
ing (without any sight of its moral evil, or odiousness as sin), and a clearer idea 
of the natural perfections of God, wherein consists, not his holy beauty and 
glory, but his awful and terrible greatness. It is a clear sight of this, that will 
Silly awaken the consciences of wicked men at the day of judgment, without 
any spiritual light. And it is a less degree of the same that awakens the con 
sciences of natural men, without spiritual light in this world. The same dis 
coveries are in some measure given in the conscience of an awakened sinner in 
this world, which will be given more fully, in the consciences of sinners at the 
day of judgment. The same kind of sight or apprehension of God, in a less 
degree, makes awakened sinners in this world sensible of the dreadful guilt of 
sin, against so great and terrible a God, and sensible of its amazing punish 
ment, and fills them with fearful apprehensions of divine wrath, that will tho 
roughly convince all wicked men, of the infinitely dreadful nature and guilt of 
sin, and astonish them with apprehensions of wrath, when Christ shall come in 
the glory of his power and majesty, and every eye shall see him, and all the 
kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. And in those common illumi 
nations which are sometimes given to natural men, exciting in them some kind 
of religious desire, love, and joy, the mind is only assisted to a clearer apprehen 
sion of the natural good that is in divine things. Thus sometimes, under com 
mon illuminations, men are raised with the ideas of the natural good that is in 
heaven ; as its outward glory, its ease, its honor and advancement, a being there the 
object of the high favor of God, and the great respect of men, and angels, &c. 
So there are many things exhibited in the gospel concerning God and Christ, 
and the way of salvation, that have a natural good in them, which suits the 
natural principle of self-love. Thus in that great goodness of God to sinners, 
and the wonderful dying love of Christ, there is a natural good which all men 
love, as they love themselves ; as well as a spiritual and holy beauty, which is 
seen only by the regenerate. Therefore there are many things appertaining to 
the word of God s grace delivered in the gospel, which may cause natural men, 
when they hear it, anon with joy to receive it. All that love which natural 
men have to God and Christ, and Christian virtues, and good men, is not from any 
sight of the arniableness of the holiness, or true moral excellency of these things ; 
but only for the sake of the natural good there is in them. All natural men s 
hatred of sin, is as much from principles of nature, as men s hatred of a tiger 
for his rapaciousness, or their aversion to a serpent for his poison and hurtful- 
ness; and all their love of Christian virtue, is from no higher principle, than 
their love of a man s good nature, which appears amiable to natural men ; but 
no otherwise than silver and gold appears amiable in the eyes of a merchant, 
or than the blackness of the soil is beautiful in the eyes of the farmer. 


From what lias been said of the nature of spiritual understanding, it appears 
that spiritual understanding does not consist in any new doctrinal knowledge, 
or in having suggested to the mind any new proposition, not before read or 
heard of; for it is plain that this suggesting of new propositions, is a thing en 
tirely diverse from giving the mind a new taste or relish of beauty and sweet 
ness.* It is also evident that spiritual knowledge does not consist in any new 
doctrinal explanation of any part of the Scripture ; for still, this is but doctrinal 
knowledge, or the knowledge of propositions ; the doctrinal explaining of any 
part of Scripture, is only giving us to understand what are the propositions con 
tained or taught in that part of Scripture. 

Hence it appears, that the spiritual understanding of the Scripture, does not 
consist in opening to the mind the mystical meaning of the Scripture, in its pa 
rables, types, and allegories ; for this is only a doctrinal explication of the 
Scripture. He that explains what is meant by the stony ground, and the seed s 
springing up suddenly, and quickly withering away, only explains what propo 
sitions or doctrines are taught in it. So he that explains what is typified by 
Jacob s ladder, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it, or what 
was typified by Joshua s leading Israel through Jordan, only shows what pro 
positions are hid in these passages. And many men can explain these types, 
who have no spiritual knowledge. It is possible that a man might know how 
to interpret all the types, parables, enigmas, and allegories in the Bible, and not 
have one beam of spiritual light in his mind ; because he may not have the least 
degree of that spiritual sense of the holy beauty of divine things which has been 
spoken of, and may see nothing of this kind of glory in any thing contained 
in any of these mysteries, or any other part of the Scripture. It is plain, by what 
the apostle says, that a man might understand all such mysteries, and have no 
saving grace, 1 Cor. xiii. 2 : " And though I have the gift of prophecy, and 
understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and have not charity, it profiteth 
me nothing." They therefore are very foolish, who are exalted in an opinion 
of their own spiritual attainments, from notions that come into their minds, of 
the mystical meaning of these and those passages of Scripture, as though it was 
a spiritual understanding of these passages, immediately given them by the Spirit 
of God, and hence have their affections highly raised ; and what has been said, 
shows the vanity of such affections. 

From what has been said, it is also evident, that it is not spiritual know 
ledge for persons to be informed of their duty, by having it immediately suggest 
ed to their minds, that such and such outward actions or deeds are the will of 
God. If we suppose that it is truly God s manner thus to signify his will to his 
people, by immediate inward suggestions, such suggestions have nothing of the 
nature of spiritual light. Such kind of knowledge would only be one kind of 
doctrinal knowledge ; a proposition concerning the will of God, is as properly 
a doctrine of religion, as a proposition concerning the nature of God, or a work 
of God ; and a having either of these kinds of propositions, or any other propo 
sition, declared to a man, either by speech, or inward suggestion, differs vastly 
from a having the holy beauty of divine things manifested to the soul, where 
in spiritual knowledge does most essentially consist. Thus there was no spiritual 
light in Balaam ; though he had the will of God immediately suggested to him 

* Calvin, in his Institutions, Book I. Chap. ix. 1, says, " ft is not the office of the Spirit that is 
promised us,. to make new and before unheard of revelations, or to coin some new kind of doctrine, which 
tends to draw us away from the received doctrine of the gospel ; but to seal and confirm to us that very 
doctrine which is by the gospel." And in the same place he speaks of some that in those days maintain- 
ui the contrary notion, "pretending to be immediately led by the Spirit, as persons that were governed 
)} a most haughty self-conceit : and not so properly to be looked upon as only laboring under a mistake, 
as driven bv a sort of raving madness." 


by the Spirit of God from time to time, concerning the way that he should go, 
and what he should do and say. 

It is manifest, therefore, that a being led and directed in this manner, is 
not that holy and spiritual leading of the Spirit of God, which is peculiar to the 
saints, and a distinguishing mark of the sons of God, spoken of, Rom. viii. 14 : 
" For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the sons of God." Gal. v. 
18, " But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law." 

And if persons have the will of God concerning their actions, suggested to 
them by some text of Scripture, suddenly and extraordinarily brought to their 
minds, which text, as the words lay in the Bible before they came to their minds, 
related to the action and behavior of some other person, but they suppose, as 
God sent the words to them, he intended something further by them, and meant 
such a particular action of theirs ; I say, if persons should have the will of God 
thus suggested to them with texts of Scripture, it alters not the case. The sug 
gestion being accompanied with an apt text of Scripture, does not make the 
suggestion to be the nature of spiritual instruction. As for instance, if a person 
in New England, on some occasion, were at a loss whether it was his duty to go 
into some popish or heathenish land, where he was like to be exposed to many 
difficulties and dangers, and should pray to God that he would show him the 
way of his duty ; and after earnest prayer, should have those words which God 
spake to Jacob, Gen. xlvi., suddenly and extraordinarily brought to his mind, 
as if they were spoken to him ; " Fear not to go down into Egypt ; for I will 
go with thee ; and I will also surely bring you up again." In which words, 
though as they lay in the Bible before they came to his mind, they related only 
to Jacob, and his behavior ; yet he supposes that God has a further meaning, 
as they were brought and applied to him ; that thus they are to be understood 
in a new sense, that by Egypt is to be understood this particular country he has 
in his mind, and that the action intended is his going thither, and that the 
meaning of the promise is, that God would bring him back into New England 
again. There is nothing of the nature of a spiritual or gracious leading of the 
Spirit in this ; for there is nothing of the nature of spiritual understanding in it. 
Thus to understand texts of Scripture, is not to have a spiritual understanding of 
them. Spiritually to understand the Scriptures, is rightly to understand what is 
in the Scripture, and what was in it before it was understood : it is to under 
stand rightly, what used to be contained in the meaning of it, and not the mak 
ing of a new meaning. When the mind is enlightened spiritually and rightly to 
understand the Scripture, it is enabled to see that in the Scripture, which before 
was not seen by reason of blindness. But if it was by reason of blindness, that 
is an evidence that the same meaning was in it before, otherwise it would have 
been no blindness not to see it ; it is no blindness not to see a meaning which is 
not there. Spiritually enlightening the eyes to understand the Scripture, is to 
open the eyes : Psal. cxix. 18, " Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold won 
drous things out of thy law ;" which argues that the reason why the same 
was not seen in the Scripturp before, was that the eyes were shut ; which would 
not be the case, if the meaning that is now understood was not there before, but 
is now newly added to the Scripture, by the manner of the Scripture s coming 
to my mind. This making a new meaning to the Scripture, is the same thing 
as making a new Scripture ; it is properly adding to the word, which is threat 
ened with so dreadful a curse. Spiritually to understand the Scripture, is to 
have the eyes of the mind opened, to behold the wonderful spiritual excellency 
of the glorious things contained in the true meaning of it, and that always were 
contained in it, ever since it was written ; to behold the amiable and bright ma- 


nifestations of the divine perfections, and of the excellency and sufficiency ol 
Christ, and the excellency and suitableness of the way of salvation by Christ, 
and the spiritual glory of the precepts and promises of the Scripture, &c., which 
things are, and always were in the Bible, arid would have been seen before, if it had 
not been for blindness, without having any new sense added, by the words being 
sent by God to a particular person, and spoken anew to him, with a new meaning. 

And as to a gracious leading of the Spirit, it consists in two things : partly 
in instructing a person in his duty by the Spirit, and partly in powerfully indu 
cing him to comply with that instruction. But so far as the gracious leading 
of the Spirit lies in instruction, it consists in a person s being guided by a spir 
itual and distinguishing taste of that which has in it true moral beauty. I have 
shown that spiritual knowledge primarily consists in a taste or relish of the 
amiableness and beauty of that which is truly good and holy : this holy relish is a 
thing that discerns and distinguishes between good and evil, between holy and 
unholy, without being at the trouble of a train of reasoning. As he who has a 
true relish of external beauty, knows what is beautiful by looking, upon it; he 
stands in no need of a train of reasoning about the proportion of the features, in 
order to determine whether that which he sees be a beautiful countenance or no ; 
he needs nothing, but only the glance of his eye. He who has a rectified musical 
ear, knows whether the sound he hears be true harmony ; he does not need 
first to be at the trouble of the reasonings of a mathematician about the propor- 
tion of the notes. He that has a rectified palate knows what is good food, as 
soon as he tastes it, without the reasoning of a physician about it. There is a 
holy beauty and sweetness in words and actions, as well as a natural beauty in 
countenances and sounds, and sweetness in food : Job xii. 11, "Doth not the 
ear try words, and the mouth taste his meat ?" When a holy and amiable ac 
tion is suggested to the thoughts of a holy soul, that soul, if in the lively exer 
cise of its spiritual taste, at once sees a beauty in it, and so inclines to it, and 
closes with it. On the contrary, if an unworthy, unholy action be suggested to 
it, its sanctified eye sees no beauty in it, and is not pleased with it ; its sancti 
fied taste relishes no sweetness in it, but on the contrary, it is nauseous to it. Yea, 
its holy taste and appetite leads it to think of that which is truly lovely, and 
naturally suggests it ; as a healthy taste and appetite naturally suggests the 
idea of its proper object. Thus a holy person is led by the Spirit, as he is in 
structed and led by his holv taste and disposition of heart ; whereby, in the 
lively exercise of grace, he easily distinguishes good and evil, and knows at 
once what is a suitable amiable behavior towards God, and towards man, in this 
case and the other, and judges what is right, as it were spontaneously, and 
of himself, without a particular deduction, by any other arguments than the 
beauty that is seen, and goodness that is tasted. Thus Christ blames the Pha 
risees, that they " did not, even of their own selves, judge what was right," 
without needing miracles to prove it, Luke xii. 57. The apostle seeros plainly 
to have respect to this way of judging of spiritual beauty, in Rom. xii. 2 : " Be 
ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that 
good, and perfect, and acceptable will of God." 

There is such a thing as good taste of natural beauty (which learned men 
often speak of) that is exercised about temporal things, in judging of them ; as 
about the justness of a speech, the goodness of style, the beauty of a poem, the 
gracefulness of deportment, &c. A late great philosopher of our nation, writes 
thus upon it :* " To have a taste, is to give things their real value, to be touched 
with the good, to be shocked with the ill ; not to be dazzled with false lustres, 

* Chambers Dictionary, uadr the word TASTE. 


out in spite of all colors, and every thing that might deceive or amuse, to 
judge soundly. Taste and judgment, then, should be the same thing ; and yet 
it is easy to discern a difference. The judgment forms its opinions from reflec 
tion : the reason on this occasion fetches a kind of circuit, to arrive at its end ; 
it supposes principles, it draws consequences, and it judges ; but not without a 
thorough knowledge of the case ; so that after it has pronounced, it is ready to 
render a reason of its decrees. Good taste observer none of these formalities ; 
ere it has time to consult, it has taken its side; as soon as ever the object is 
presented, the impression is made, the sentiment formed, ask no more of it. As 
the ear is wounded with a harsh sound, as the smell is soothed with an agreea 
ble odor, before ever the reason have meddled with those objects to judge of 
them, so the taste opens itself at once, and prevents all reflection. They may 
come afterwards to confirm it, and discover the secret reasons of its conduct ; 
but it was not in its power to wait for them. Frequently it happens not to know 
them at all, and what pains soever it uses, cannot discover what it was "deter 
mined it to think as it did. This conduct is very different from what the judg 
ment observes in its decisions: unless w r e choose to say, that good taste is, as it 
were, a first motion, or a kind of instinct of right reason, which hurries on with 
rapidity, and conducts more securely, than all the reasonings she could make ; 
it is a first glance of the eye, which discovers to us the nature and relations of 
things in a moment. 

Now as there is such a kind of taste of the mind as this, which philosophers 
speak of, whereby persons are guided in their judgment, of the natural beauty, 
gracefulness, propriety, nobleness, and sublimity of speeches and action, where 
by they judge as it were by the glance of the eye, or by inward sensation, and 
the first impression of the object ; so there is likewise such a thing as a divine 
taste, given and maintained by the Spirit of God, in the hearts of the saints, 
whereby they are in like manner led and guided in discerning and distinguish 
ing the true spiritual and holy beauty of actions ; and that more easily, readily, and 
accurately, as they have more or less of the Spirit of God dwelling in them. And 
thus " the sons of God are led by the Spirit of God, in their behavior in the world." 
A holy disposition and spiritual taste, where grace is strong and lively, will 
enable the soul to determine what actions are right and becoming Christians, 
not only more speedily, but far more exactly, than the greatest abilities without 
it. This may be illustrated by the manner in which some habits of mind, and 
dispositions of heart, of a nature inferior to true grace, will teach and guide a 
man in his actions. As for instance, if a man be a very good natured man, his 
good nature will teach him better how to act benevolently amongst mankind, 
and will direct him, on every occasion, to those speeches and actions, which are 
agreeable to rules of goodness, than the strongest reason will a man of a morose 
temper. So if a man s heart be under the influence of an entire friendship, and 
most endeared affection to another ; though he be a man of an indifferent capa 
city, yet this habit of his mind will direct him, far more readily and exactly, t-o 
a speech and deportment, or manner of behavior, which shall in all respects be 
sweet and kind, and agreeable to a benevolent disposition of heart, than the 
greatest capacity without it. He has as it were a spirit within him, that guides 
him ; the habit of his mind is attended with a taste, by which he immediately 
relishes that air and mien which is benevolent, and disrelishes the contrary, and 
causes him to distinguish between one and the other in a moment, more precise 
ly, than the most accurate reasonings can find out in many hours. As the nature 
and inward tendency of a stone, or other heavy body, that is let fall from aloft, 
shows the w r ay to the centre of the earth, more exactly in an instant, than the 


ablest mathematician, without it, could determine, by his most accurate observ 
ations, in a whole day. Thus it is that a spiritual disposition and taste teaches 
and guides a man in his behavior in the world. So an eminently humble, or 
meek, or charitable disposition, will direct a person of mean capacity to such a 
behavior, as is agreeable to Christian rules of humility, meekness and charity, 
far more readily and precisely than the most diligent study, and elaborate reason 
ings, of a man of the strongest faculties, who has not a Christian spirit within 
him. So also will a spirit of love to God, and holy fear and reverence towards 
God, and filial confidence in God, and a heavenly disposition, teach and o-mdp 
a man in his behavior. 

It is an exceedingly difficult thing for a wicked man, destitute of Christian 
principles in his heart to guide him, to know how to demean himself like a Christian, 
with the life and beauty, and heavenly sweetness of a truly holy, humble, Christ- 
like behavior. He knows not how to put on these garments, neither do they fit 
him : Eccl. x. 2, 3, " A wise man s heart is at his right hand ; but a fool s heart 
is at his left. Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom 
faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool;" with ver. 15, " The 
labor of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how 
to go to the city." Prov. x. 32, " The lips of the righteous know what is 
acceptable." Chap. xv. 2, " The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright ; 
but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness." And chap. xvi. 23, " The 
heart of the righteous teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips." ( 

The saints in thus judging of actions by a spiritual taste, have not a parti 
cular recourse to express rules of God s word, with respect to every word and * 
action that is before them, the good or evil of which they thus judge : but yet 
their taste itself, in general, is subject to the rule of God s word, and must be 
tried by that, and a right reasoning upon it. As a man of a rectified palate 
judges of particular morsels by his taste ; but yet his palate itself must be judg 
ed of, whether it be right or no, by certain rules and reasons. But a spiritual 
taste of soul mightily helps the soul in its reasonings on the word of God, and 
in judging of the true meaning of its rules : as it removes the prejudices of a 
depraved appetite, and naturally leads the thoughts in the right channel, casts a 
light on the word of God, and causes the true meaning most naturally to come 
to mind, through the harmony there is between the disposition and relish of a sanc 
tified soul, and the true meaning of the rules of God s word. Yea, this harmony 
tends to bring the texts themselves to mind, on proper occasions ; as the parti 
cular state of the stomach and palate tends to bring such particular meats and 
drinks to mind, as are agreeable to that state. " Thus the children of God are 
led by the Spirit of God," in judging of actions themselves, and in their medi 
tations upon, and judging of, and applying the rules of God s holy word : and 
so God " teaches them his statutes, and causes them to understand the way of 
his precepts;" which the Psalmist so often prays for. 

But this leading of the Spirit is a thing exceedingly diverse from that which 
some call so ; which consists not in teaching them God s statutes and precepts, 
that he has already given ; but in giving them new precepts, by immediate in 
ward speech or suggestion ; and has in it no tasting the true excellency of 
things, or judging or discerning the nature of things at all. They do not de 
termine what is the will of God by any taste or relish, or any manner of judg 
ing of the nature of things, but by an immediate dictate concerning the thing 
to be done ; there is no such thing as any judgment or wisdom in the case. 
Whereas in that leading of the Spirit which is peculiar to God s children, is 
imparted that true wisdom, and holy discretion, so often spoken of in the word 


of God ; which is high above the other way, as the stars are higher than a 
glow worm ; and that which Balaam and Saul (who sometimes were led by 
the Spirit in that other way) never had, and no natural man can have, without 
a change ol nature. 

What has been said of the nature of spiritual understanding, as consisting 
most essentially in a divine supernatural sense and relish of the heart, not only 
shows that there is nothing of it in this falsely supposed leading of the Spirit, 
which has been now spoken of; but also shows the difference between spirit 
ual understanding, and all kinds and forms of enthusiasm, all imaginary sights 
of God, and Christ, and heaven, all supposed witnessing of the Spirit, and tes 
timonies of the love of God by immediate inward suggestion : and all impres 
sions of future events, and immediate revelations of any secret facts whatso 
ever ; all enthusiastical impressions and applications of words of Scripture, as 
though they were words now immediately spoken by God to a particular per 
son, in a new meaning, and carrying something more in them, than the words 
contain as they lie in the Bible ; and all interpretations of the mystical meaning 
of the Scripture, by supposed immediate revelation. None of these things con 
sists in a divine sense and relish of the heart, of the holy beauty and excellency 
of divine things ; nor have they any thing to do w r ith such a sense ; but all con 
sists in impressions in the head ; all are to be referred to the head of impressions 
on the imagination, and consist in the excising external ideas in the mind, either 
in ideas of outward shapes and colors, or words spoken, or letters written, or 
ideas of things external and sensible, belonging to actions done, or events ac 
complished or to be accomplished. An enthusiastical supposed manifestation 
of the love of God, is made by the exciting an idea of a smiling countenance, 
or some other pleasant outward appearance, or by the idea of pleasant words 
spoken, or written, excited in the imagination, or some pleasant bodily sensation. 
So when persons have an imaginary revelation of some secret fact, it is by ex 
citing external ideas ; either of some words, implying a declaration of that fact, 
or some visible or sensible circumstances of such a fact. So the supposed lead 
ing of the Spirit, to do the will of God, in outward behavior, is either by excit 
ing the idea of words (which are outward things) in their minds, either the words 
of Scripture, or other words, which they look upon as an immediate command 
of God ; or else by exciting and impressing strongly the ideas of the outward 
actions themselves. So when an interpretation of a Scripture type or allegory, 
is immediately, in an extraordinary way, strongly suggested, it is by suggesting 
words, as though one secretly whispered and told the meaning, or by exciting 
other ideas in the imagination. 

Such sort of experiences and discoveries as these, commonly raise the affec 
tions of such as are deluded by them, to a great height, and make a mighty 
uproar in both soul and body. And a very great part of the false religion that 
has been in the world, from one age to another, consists in such discoveries as 
these, and in the affections that flow from them. In such things consisted the 
experiences of the ancient Pythagoreans among the heathen, and many others 
among them, who had strange ecstasies and raptures, and pretended to a divine 
afflatus, and immediate revelations from heaven. In such things as these seem 
to have consisted the experiences of the Essenes, an ancient sect among the 
Jews, at and after the time of the apostles. In such things as these consisted 
the experiences of many of the ancient Gnostics, and the Montanists, and many 
other sects of ancient heretics, in the primitive ages of the Christian church. 
And in such things as these consisted the pretended immediate converse with 
God and Christ, and saints and angels of heaven, of the Monks, Anchorites, and 

VOL. Ill, 16 


Recluses, that formerly abounded in the Church of Rome. In such things con 
sisted the pretended high experiences, and great spirituality of many sects of 
enthusiasts, that swarmed in the world after the Reformation ; such as the Ana 
baptists, Antinomians, and Familists, the followers of N. Stork, Th. Muncer, 
Jo. Becold, Henry Pfeiser, David George, Casper Swenckfield, Henry Nicolas, 
Johannes Agrcola Eislebius ; and the many wild enthusiasts that were in Eng 
land in the days of Oliver Cromwell; and the followers of Mrs. Hutchison in 
New England ; as appears by the particular and large accounts given of all 
these sects by that eminently holy man, Mr. Samuel Rutherford, in his " Dis 
play of the Spiritual Antichrist." And in such things as these consisted the ex 
periences of the late French prophets, and their followers. And in these things 
seems to lie the religion of the many kinds of enthusiasts of the present day. It 
is by such sort of religion as this, chiefly, that Satan transforms himself into an 
angel of light : and it is that which he has ever most successfully made use of 
to confound hopeful and happy revivals of religion, from the beginning of the 
Christian church to this day. When the Spirit of God is poured out, to begin 
a glorious work, then the old serpent, as fast as possible, and by all means, in 
troduces this bastard religion, and mingles it with the true ; which has from 
time to time soon brought all things into confusion. The pernicious consequence 
of it is not easily imagined or conceived of, until we see and are amazed 
with the awful effects of it, and the dismal desolation it has made. If the re 
vival of true religion be very great in its beginning, yet if this bastard comes in, 
there is danger of its doing as Gideon s bastard Abimelech did, who never left 
until he had slain all his threescore and ten true-born sons, excepting one, that 
was forced to fly. Great and strict therefore should be the watch and guard 
that ministers maintain against such things, especially at a time of great awak 
ening : for men, especially the common people, are easily bewitched with such 
things ; they having such a glaring and glistering show of high religion ; and 
the devil hiding his own shape, and appearing as an angel of light, that men 
may not be afraid of him, but may adore him. 

The imagination or phantasy seems to be that wherein are formed all those 
delusions of Satan, which those are carried away with, who are under the in 
fluence of false religion, and counterfeit graces and affections^ Kerens the 
devil s grand lurking place, the very nest of foul and delusive spirits. It is very 
much to be doubted, whether the devil can come at the soul of man at all to 
affect it, or to excite any thought or motion, or produce any effect whatsoever 
in it, any other way, than by the phantasy ; which is that power of the soul, by 
which it receives, and is the subject of the species, or ideas of outward and sen 
sible things. As to the laws and means which the Creator has established, for 
the intercourse and communication of unbodied spirits, we know nothing about 
them; we do not know by what medium they manifest their thoughts to each 
other, or excite thoughts in each other. But as to spirits that are united to 
bodies, those bodies God has united them to, are their medium of communication. 
They have no other medium of acting on other creatures, or being acted on by 
them, than the body. Therefore it is not to be supposed that Satan can excite 
any thought, or produce any effect in the soul of man, any otherwise, than by 
some motion of the animal spirits, or by causing some motion or alteration in some 
thing which appertains to the body. There is this reason to think that the devil 
cannot produce thoughts in the soul immediately, or any other way than by the 
medium of the body, viz., that he cannot immediately see or know the thoughts 
of the soul : it is abundantly declared in the Scripture, to be peculiar to the 
omniscient God to do that. But it is not likely that the devil can immediately 


produce an eiTect, which is out of the reach of his immediate view. It seems 
Uiii easonable to suppose, that his immediate agency should be out of his own 
sight, or that it should be impossible for him to see what he himself immediately 
does. Is it not unreasonable to suppose, that any spirit or intelligent agent, 
should by the act of his will, produce effects according to his understanding, or 
agreeable to his own thoughts, and that immediately, and yet the effects produced 
be beyond the reach of his understanding, or where he can have no immediate 
perception or discerning at all ? But if this be so, that the devil cannot produce 
thoughts in the soul immediately, or any other way than by the animal spirits, 
or by the body, then it follows, that he never brings to pass any thing in the 
soul, but by the imagination or phantasy, or by exciting external ideas. For 
we know that alterations in the body do immediately excite no other sort of ideas 
in the mind, but external ideas, or ideas of the outward senses, or ideas which 
are of the same outward nature. As to reflection, abstraction, reasoning, &c., and 
those thoughts and inward motions which are the fruits of these acts of the mind, 
they are not the next effects of impressions on the body. So that it must be 
only by the imagination, that Satan has access to the soul, to tempt and delude 
it, or suggest any thing to it.* And this seems to be the reason why persons 
that are under the disease of melancholy, are commonly so visibly and remarka 
bly subject to the suggestions and temptations of Satan ; that being a disease 
which peculiarly affects the animal spirits, and is attended with weakness of that 
part of the body which is the fountain of the animal spirits, even the brain, which 
is, as it were, the seat of the phantasy. It is by impressions made on the brain, 
that any ideas are excited in the mind, by the motion of the animal spirits, or 
any changes made in the body. The brain being thus weakened and diseased, 
it is less under the command of the higher faculties of the soul, and yields the 
more easily to extrinsic impressions, and is overpowered by the disordered mo 
tions of the animal spirits ; and so the devil has greater advantage to affect the 
mind, by working on the imagination. And thus Satan, when he casts in those 
horrid suggestions into the minds of many melancholy persons, in which they 
have no hand themselves, he does it by exciting imaginary ideas, either of some 
dreadful words or sentences, or other horrid outward ideas. And when he 
tempts other persons who are not melancholy, he does it by presenting to the 
imagination, in a lively and alluring manner, the objects of their lusts, or by 
exciting ideas of words, and so by them exciting thoughts ; or by promoting an 
imagination of outward actions, events, circumstances, &c. Innumerable are 

* " The imagination is that room of the soul wherein the devil doth often appear. Indeed (to speak 
exactly) the devil hath no efficient power over the rational part of a man ; he cannot change the will, he 
cannot alter the heart of a man. So that the utmost he can do, in tempting a man to sin, is by suasion 
and suggestion only. But how doth the devil do this ? Even by working upon the imagination. He 
observeth the temper, and bodily constitution of a man ; and thereupon suggests to his fancy, and injects 
his fiery darts thereinto, by which the mind will come to be wrought upon. The devil then, though he 
hath no imperious efficacy over thy will, yet because lie can thus stir and move thy imagination, and 
thou being naturally destitute of grace, canst not withstand these suggestions : hence it is that any sin in 
thy imagination, though but in the outward works of the soul, yet doth quickly lay hold on all. And in 
deed, by this means, do arise those horrible delusions, that are in many erroneous ways of religion ; all is 
because their imaginations are corrupted. Yea, how often are these diabolical delusions of the imagination 
taker. 5>r the gracious operation of God s Spirit ! It is from hence that many have pretended to enthu 
siasms : they leave the Scriptures, and wholly attend to what they perceive and feel within them." 
Burgess on Original Sin, p. 369. 

The great Turretine, speaking on that que-stion, What is the power of angels ? says, " As to bodies 
there is no doubt but. that they can do a great deal upon all sorts of elementary and sublunary bodies, to 
move them locally and variously to agitate them. It is also certain, that they can act upon the external 
and internal senses, to excite them or to bind them. But as to the rational soul itself, they can do nothing 
immediately upon that ; for to God alone, who knows and searches the hearts, and who has them in his 
hands, does it also appertain to bow and move them whithersoever he will. But angels- can act upon the 
rational soul, only mediately., by imaginations." Tht(^)g. Elench. Loc. VII. Quest. ?. 


the ways by which the mind might be led on to all kind of evil thoughts, by 
exciting external ideas in the imagination. 

]f persons keep no guard at these avenues of Satan, by which he has access 
to the soul, to tempt and delude it, they will be likely to have enough of him. 
And especially, if instead of guarding against him, they lay themselves open to 
him, and seek and invite him, because he appears as an angel of light, and 
counterfeits the illuminations and graces of the Spirit of God, by inward whis 
pers, and immediate suggestions of facts and events, pleasant voices, beautiful 
images, and other impressions on the imagination. There are many who arc 
deluded by such things, and are lifted up with them, and seek after them, that 
have a continued course of them, and can have them almost when they will ; 
and especially when their pride and vainglory has most occasion for them, to 
make a show of them before company. It is with them, something as it is with 
those who are professors of the art of telling where lost things are to be found, 
by impressions made on their imaginations ; they laying themselves open to the 
devil, he is always on hand to give them the desired impression. 

Before I finish what I would say on this head of imaginations, counterfeit 
ing spiritual light, and affections arising from them, I would renewedly (to pre 
vent misunderstanding of what has been said) desire it may be observed, that I 
am far from determining, that no affections are spiritual which are attended 
with imaginary ideas. Such is the nature of man, that he can scarcely think 
of any thing intensely, without some kind of outward ideas. They arise and in 
terpose themselves unavoidably, in the course of a man s thoughts ; though 
oftentimes they are very confused, and are not what the mind regards. When 
the mind is much engaged, and the thoughts intense, oftentimes the imagination 
is more strong, and the outward idea more lively, especially in persons of some 
constitutions of body. But there is a great difference between these two things, 
viz., Iiv 7 ely imaginations arising from strong affections, and strong affections 
arising from lively imaginations. The former may be, and doubtless often is, 
in case of truly gracious affections. The affections do not arise from the imagi 
nation, nor have any dependence upon it ; but on the contrary, the imagination 
is only the accidental effect, or consequent of the affection, through the infirmi 
ty of human nature. But when the latter is the case, as it often is, that the 
affection arises from the imagination, and is built upon it, as its foundation, in 
stead of a spiritual illumination or discovery, then is the affection, however ele 
vated, worthless and vain. And this is the drift of what has been now said, of 
impressions on the imagination. Having observed this, I proceed to another 
mark of gracious affections. 

V. Truly gracious affections are attended with a reasonable and spiritual 
conviction of the judgment, of the reality and certainty of divine things. 

This seems to be implied in the text that was laid as the foundation of this 
discourse: " Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see 
him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory." 

All those who are truly gracious persons have a solid, full, thorough and 
effectual conviction of the truth of the great things of the gospel ; I mean, that 
they no longer halt between two opinions ; the great doctrines of the gospel cease 
to be any longer doubtful things, or matters of opinion, which, though probable, 
are yet disputable ; but with them, they are points settled and determined, as 
undoubted and indisputable ; so that they are not afraid to venture their all upon 
their truth. Their conviction is an effectual conviction; so that the great, 
spiritual, mysterious, and invisible things of the gospel, have the influence of 
real and certain things upon them ; they have the weight and power of real 


things in their hearts; and accordingly rule in their affections, and govern them 
through the course of their lives. With respect to Christ s being the Son of 
God, and Saviour of the world, and the great things he has revealed concerning 
himself, and his Father, and another world, they have not only a predominating 
opinion that these things are true, and so yield their assent, as they do in many 
other matters of doubtful speculation ; but they see that it is really so ; their 
eyes are opened, so that they see that really Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the 
living God. And as to the things which Christ has revealed, of God s eternal 
purposes and designs, concerning fallen man, and the glorious and everlasting 
things prepared for the saints in another world, they see that they are so in 
deed ; and therefore these things are of great weight with them, and have 
a mighty power upon their hearts, and influence over their practice, in some 
measure answerable to their infinite importance. 

That all true Christians have such a kind of conviction of the truth of the 
things of the gospel, is abundantly manifest from the Holy Scriptures. I will 
mention a few places of many: Matt. xvi. 15, 16, 17, "But whom say ye that 
I am ? Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living 
God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona ; 
My Father which is in heaven hath revealed it unto thee." John vi. 68, 69, 
" Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou 
art that Christ, the Son of the living God." John xvii. 6, 7,8, " I have mani 
fested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world. Now 
they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me, are of thee. 
For I have given unto them the w r ords which thou gavest me ; and they have 
received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they 
have believed that thou didst send me." Acts viii. 37, " If thou believest with 
all thy heart, thou mayest." 2. Cor. iv. 11, 12, 13, 14, " We which live, are 
always delivered unto death for Jesus sake. Death worketh in us. We hav 
ing the spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore ha\f 
I spoken ; we also believe, and therefore speak ; knowing, that he which raised 
up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with 
you." Together w r ith ver. 16, " For which cause we faint not." And ver. 18, 
" While we look not at the things which are seen," &c. And chap. v. 1, " For 
we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have 
a building of God." And ver. 6, 7, 8, " Therefore we are always confident, 
knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord ; 
for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and willing rather 
to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord." 2 Tim. i. 12, " For 
the which cause I also suffer these things ; nevertheless I am not ashamed ; for I 
know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which 
I have committed unto him against that day." Heb. iii. 6, " Whose house are 
we, if we hold fast the confidence, and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the 
end." Heb. xi. 1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the 
evidence of things not seen ;" together with that whole chapter. 1 John iv. 
13, 14, 15, 16, " Hereby know we that \ve dwell in him, and he in us, because 
he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen, and do testify, that the Father 
sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus 
is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known 
and believed the love that God hath to us." Chap. v. 4, 5, " For whatsoever is 
born of God, overcometh the world ; and this is the victory that overcometh 
the world, even our faith. W 7 ho is he that overcometh the world, but he that 
believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ?" 


Therefore truly gracious affections are attended with such a kind of convic 
tion and persuasion of the truth of the things of the gospel, and sight of theh 
evidence and reality, as these and other Scriptures speak of. 

There are many religious affections, which are not attended with such a 
conviction of the judgment. There are many apprehensions and ideas which 
some have, that they call divine discoveries, which are affecting, but not con 
vincing. Though for a little while they may seem to be more persuaded of 
the truth of the things of religion than they used to be, and may yield a for 
ward assent, like many of Christ s hearers, who believed for a while ; yet they 
have no thorough and effectual conviction ; nor is there any great abiding 
change in them, in this respect, that whereas formerly they did not realize the 
great things of the gospel, now these things, with regard to reality and certain 
ty, appear new to them, and they behold them, quite in another view than they 
used to do. There are many persons who have been exceedingly raised with 
religious affections, and think they have been converted, that do not go about 
the world any more convinced of the truth of the gospel, than they used to be ; 
or at least, there is no remarkable alteration : they are not men who live under 
the influence and power of a realizing conviction of the infinite and eternal 
things which the gospel reveals; if they were, it would be impossible for them 
to live as they do. Because their affections are not attended with a thorough 
conviction of the mind, they are not at all to be depended on ; however great 
a show and noise they make, it is like the blaze of tow, or crackling of thorns, 
or like the forward flourishing blade on stony ground, that has no root, nor 
deepness of earth to maintain its life. 

Some persons, under high affections, and a confident persuasion of their 
good estate, have that, w T hich they very ignorantly call a seeing the truth of 
the word of God, and which is very far from it, after this manner ; they have 
some text of Scripture coming to their minds in a sudden and extraordinary 
manner, immediately declaring unto them (as they suppose) that their sins are 
forgiven, or that God loves them, and will save them ; and it may be, have s 
chain of Scriptures coming one after another, to the same purpose ; and they 
are convinced that it is truth ; i. e.,they are confident that it is certainly so, that 
their sins are forgiven, and God does love them, &c. they say they know it isj 
so ; and when the words of Scripture are suggested to them, and as they sup 
pose immediately spoken to them by God, in this meaning, they are ready to 
cry out, Truth, truth ! It is certainly so ! The word of God is true ! And this 
they call a seeing the truth of the word of God. Whereas the whole of their 
faith amounts to no more, than only a strong confidence of their own good es 
tate, and so a confidence that these words are true, which they suppose tell 
them they are in a good estate : when indeed (as was shown before) there is 
no Scripture which declares that any person is in a good estate directly, or any 
other way than by consequence. So that this, instead of being a real sight 
of the truth of the word of God, is a sight of nothing but a phantom, and is 
wholly a delusion. Truly to see the truth of the word of God, is to see the 
truth of the gospel ; which is the glorious doctrine the word of God contains, 
concerning God, and Jesus Christ, and the way of salvation by him, and the 
world of glory that he is entered into, and purchased for all them who believe; 
and not a revelation that such and such particular persons are true Christians, 
and shall go to heaven. Therefore those affections which arise from no other 
persuasion of the truth of the word of God than this, arise from delusion, and 
not true conviction ; and consequently are themselves delusive and vain. 

But if the religious affections that persons have, do indeed arise from a 


strong persuasion of the truth of the Christian religion, their affections are not 
the better, unless their persuasion be a reasonable persuasion or conviction. 
By a reasonable conviction, 1 mean, a conviction founded on real evidence ox 
upon that which is a good reason, or just ground of conviction. Men may 
have a strong persuasion that the Christian religion is true, when their persua 
sion is not at all built on evidence, but altogether on education, and the opinion of 
others ; as many Mahometans are strongly persuaded of the truth of the Ma 
hometan religion, because their fathers, and neighbors, and nation believe it. 
That belief of the truth of the Christian religion, which is built on the very 
same grounds with a Mahometan s belief of the Mahometan religion, is the 
same sort of belief. And though the thing believed happens to be better, 
yet that does not make the belief itself to be of a better sort ; for though the 
thing believed happens to be true, yet the belief of it is not owing to this truth, 
but to education. So that as the conviction is no better than the Mahometan s 
conviction ; so the affections that flow from it, are no better in themselves, than 
the religious affections of Mahometans. 

But if that belief of Christian doctrines, which persons affections arise from, 
be not merely from education, but indeed from reasons and arguments which are 
offered, it will not from thence necessarily follow, that their affections are truly 
gracious : for in order to that, it is requisite not only that the belief which their 
affections arise from, should be a reasonable, but also a spiritual belief or con 
viction. I suppose none will doubt but that some natural men do yield a 
kind of assent of their judgments to the truth of the Christian religion, from the 
rational proofs or arguments that are offered to evince it. Judas, without doubt, 
thought Jesus to be the Messiah, from the things which he saw and heard ; but 
yet all along was a devil. So in John ii. 23, 24, 25, we read of many that be 
lieved in Christ s name, when they saw the miracles that he did ; whom yet 
Christ knew had not that within them, which was to be depended on. So Si 
mon the sorcerer believed, when he beheld the miracles and signs which were 
done ; but yet remained in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity, Acts viii. 
13, 23. And if there is such a belief or assent of the judgment in some natural 
men, none can doubt but that religious affections may arise from that assent or 
belief; as we read of some who believed for awhile, that were greatly affected, 
and anon with joy received the word. 

It is evident that there is such a thing as a. spiritual belief or conviction of 
the truth of the things of the gospel, or a belief that is peculiar to those who 
are spiritual, or who are regenerated, and have the Spirit of God, in his holy 
communications, and dwelling in them as a vital principle. So that the con 
viction they have, does not only differ from that which natural men have, in its 
concomitants, in that it is accompanied with good works ; but the belief itself 
is diverse, the assent and conviction of the judgment is of a kind peculiar to 
those who are spiritual, and that which natural men are wholly destitute of. 
This is evident by the Scripture, if any thing at all is so : John xvii. 8, " They 
have believed that thou didst send me." Tit. i. 1, " According to the faith of 
God s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness." John 
xvi. 27, " The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have 
believed that I came out from God." 1 John iv. 15, " Whosoever shall confess 
that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God." Chap. v. 1, 
" Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God." Ver. 10, " He 
that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself." 

What a spiritual conviction of the judgment is, we are naturally led to de 
termine from what has been said already, under the former head of a spiritual 



understanding. The conviction of the judgment arises from the illumination of 
the understanding ; the passing of a right judgment on things, depends on hav 
ing a right apprehension or idea of things. And therefore it follows, that a 
spiritual conviction of the truth of the great things of the gospel, is such a con 
viction, as arises from having a spiritual view or apprehension of those things 
in the mind. And this is also evident from the Scripture, which often repre 
sents, that a saving belief of the reality and divinity of the things proposed and 
exhibited to us in the gospel, is from the Spirit of God s enlightening the mind, 
to have right apprehensions of the nature of those things, and so as it were 
unveiling things, or revealing them, and enabling the mind to view them and 
see them as they are. Luke x. 21, 22, "I thank thee, Father, Lord o; 
heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent 
and hast revealed them unto babes : even so, Father, for so it seemed good in 
thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father : and no man know- 
eth who the Son is, but the Father ; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he 
to whom the Son will reveal him." John vi. 40, "And this is the will of him 
that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have 
everlasting life." Where it is plain, that true faith arises from a spiritual sight 
of Christ. And John xvii. 6, 7, 8, " I have manifested thy name unto the men 
which thou gavest me out of the world. Now they have known that all things 
whatsoever thou hast given me, are of thee. For I have given unto them the 
words which thou gavest me ; and they have received them, and have known 
surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send 
inc." Where Christ s manifesting God s name to the disciples, or giving them 
a true apprehension and view of divine things, was that whereby they knew 
that Christ s doctrine was of God, and that Christ himself was of him, and was 
sent by him : Matt. xvi. 16, 17, " Simon Peter said, Thou art Christ, the Son of 
the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, 
Simon Barjona : for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Fa 
ther which is in heaven." 1 John v.10, " He that believeth on the Son of God, 
hath the witness in himself." Gal. i. 14, 15, 16, " Being more exceedingly 
zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who sepa 
rated me from my mother s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his 
Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen ; immediately I con 
ferred not with flesh and blood." 

If it be so, that that is a spiritual conviction of the divinity and reality of the 
things exhibited in the gospel, which arises from a spiritual understanding of 
those things ; I have shown already what that is, viz., a sense and taste of the 
divine, supreme, and holy excellency and beauty of those things. So that then 
is the mind spiritually convinced of the divinity and truth of the great things of 
the gospel, when that conviction arises, either directly or remotely, from such a 
sense or view of their divine excellency and glory as is there exhibited. This 
clearly follows, from things that have been already said : and for this the Scrip 
ture is very plain and express, 2 Cor. iv. 3 6 : " But if our gospel be hid, it is 
hid to them that are lost ; in whom the God of this world hath blinded the 
minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, 
who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, 
but Christ Jesus the Lord ; and ourselves your servants for Jesus sake. For 
God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our 
hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of 
Jesus Christ." Together with the last verse of the foregoing chapter, which 
introduces this, " but we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory 


of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by 
the Spirit of the Lord." Nothing can be more evident, than that a saving be 
lief of -the gospel is here spoken of, by the apostle, as arising from the mind s 
being enlightened to behold the divine glory of the things it exhibits. 

This view or sense of the divine glory, and unparalleled beauty of the things 
exhibited to us in the gospel, has a tendency to convince the mind of their 
divinity, two ways ; directly, and more indirectly, and remotely. 1. A view 
of this divine glory directly convinces the mind of the divinity of these things, 
as this glory is in itself a direct, clear, and all-conquering evidence of it ; espe 
cially when clearly discovered, or when this supernatural sense is given in a 
good degree. 

He that has his judgment thus directly convinced and assured of the div-.aty 
of the things of the gospel, by a clear view of their divine glory, has a re^ionable 
conviction ; his belief and assurance is altogether agreeable to reason ; because 
the divine glory and beauty of divine things is, in itself, real evidence of the 
divinity, and the most direct and strong evidence. He that truly sees the divine 
transcendent, supreme glory of those things which are divine, does as it were 
know their divinity intuitively : he not only argues that they are divine, but he 
sees that they are divine; he sees that in them wherein divinity chiefly consists, 
for in this glory, which is so vastly and inexpressibly distinguished from the 
glory of artificial things, and all other glory, does mainly consist the true notion 
of divinity. God is God, and distinguished from all other beings, and exalted 
above them, chiefly by his divine beauty, which is infinitely diverse from all 
other beauty. They therefore that see the stamp of this glory in divine things, 
they see divinity in them, they see God in them, and see them to be divine ; be 
cause they see that in them wherein the truest idea of divinity does consist. 
Thus a soul may have a kind of intuitive knowledge of the divinity of the things 
exhibited in the gospel ; not that he judges the doctrines of the gospel to be 
from God, without any argument or deduction at all ; but it is without any 
long chain of arguments ; the argument is but one, and the evidence direct j 
the mind ascends to the truth of the gospel but by one step, and that is its 
divine glory. 

It would be very strange, if any professing Christian should deny it to be 
possible, that there should be an excellency in divine things, which is so trans 
cendent, and exceedingly different from what is in other things, that if it were 
seen, would evidently distinguish them. We cannot rationally doubt, but that 
things that are divine, that appertain to the Supreme Being, are vastly differ 
ent from things that are human : that there is a Godlike, high, and glorious 
excellency in them, that does so distinguish them from the. things which are 
of men, that the difference is ineffable ; and therefore such as, if seen, will 
have a most convincing, satisfying influence upon any one, that they are what 
they are, viz., divine. Doubtless there is that glory and excellency in the 
divine Being, by which he is so infinitely distinguished from all other beings, 
that if it were seen, he might be known by it. It would therefore be very un 
reasonable to deny, that it is possible for God to give manifestations of this dis 
tinguishing excellency, in things by which he is pleased to make himself known ; 
and that this distinguishing excellency may be clearly seen in them. There 
are natural excellencies, that are very evidently distinguishing of the subjects 
or authors, to any one who beholds them. How vastly is the speech of an un 
derstanding man different from that of a little child ! And fiuw greatly distin 
guished is the speech of some men of great genius, as Homer. Cicero, Milton, 
Locke, Addison, and others, from that of many other understanding men There 

VOL. III. 17 


are no limits to be set to the degrees of manifestation of mental excellency, that 
there may be in speech. But the appearances of the natural perfections of God, 
in the manifestations he makes of himself, may doubtless be unspeakably more 
evidently distinguishing, than the appearances of those excellencies of worms 
of the dust, in which they differ one from another. He that is well acquainted 
with mankind, and their works, by viewing the sun, may know it is no 
human work. And it is reasonable to suppose, that when Christ comes at the 
end of the world, in the glory of his Father, it will be with such ineffable ap 
pearances of divinity, as will leave no doubt to the inhabitants of the world, even 
the most obstinate infidels, that he who appears is a divine person. But above 
all, do the manifestations of the moral and spiritual glory of the divine Being 
(which is the proper beauty of the divinity) bring their own evidence, and tend 
to assure the heart. Thus the disciples were assured that Jesus was the Son of 
God, " for they beheld his glory, as the glory of the only begotten of the Fa 
ther, full of grace and truth," John i. 14. When Christ appeared in the glory 
of his transfiguration to his disciples, with that outward glory to their bodily 
eyes, which was a sweet and admirable symbol and semblance of his spiritual 
glory, together with his spiritual glory itself, manifested to their minds ; the 
manifestation of glory was such, as did perfectly, and with good reason, assure 
them of his divinity ; as appears by what one of them, viz., the Apostle Peter, 
says concerning it, 2 Pet. i. 16, 17, 18, " For we have not followed cunningly 
devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from 
God the Father, honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from 
the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And 
this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the 
holy mount." The apostle calls that mount, the holy mount, because, the man 
ifestations of Christ which were there made to their minds, and which their 
minds were especially impressed and ravished with, were the glory of his holi 
ness, or the beauty of his moral excellency ; or, as another of these disciples, 
who saw it, expresses it, " his glory, as full of grace and truth." 

Now this distinguishing glory of the divine Being has its brightest appear 
ance and manifestation, in the things proposed and exhibited to us in the gos 
pel, the doctrines there taught, the word there spoken, and the divine coun 
sels, acts and works there revealed. These things have the clearest, most 
admirable, and distinguishing representations and exhibitions of the glory of 
God s moral perfections, that ever were made to the world. And if there be 
such a distinguishing, evidential manifestation of divine glory in the gospel, it is 
reasonable to suppose that there may be such a thing as seeing it. What should 
hinder but that it may be seen 1 It is no argument that it cannot be seen, that 
some do not see it ; though they may be discerning men in temporal matters. 
If there be such ineffable, distinguishing, evidential excellencies in the gospel, 
it is reasonable to suppose, that they are such as are not to be discerned, but by 
the special influence and enlightenings of the Spirit of God. There is need of 
uncommon force of mind to discern the distinguishing excellencies of the works 
of authors of great genius: those things in Milton, which, to mean judges, ap 
pear tasteless and imperfections, are his inimitable excellencies in the eyes of 
those, who are of greater discerning and better taste. And if there be a book, 
which God is the author of, it is most reasonable to suppose, that the distin 
guishing glories of his word are of such a kind, as that the corruption of men s 
hearts, which above all things alienates men from the Deity, and makes the 
heart dull and stupid to any sense or taste of those things wherein the moral 


glory of the divine perfections consists : I say, it is but reasonable to suppose, 
that this would blind men from discerning the beauties of such a book ; and 
that therefore they will not see them, but as God is pleased to enlighten them, 
and restore a holy taste, to discern and relish divine beauties. 

This sense of the spiritual excellency and beauty of divine things, does also 
tend directly to convince the mind of the truth of the gospel, as there are very 
many of the most important things declared in the gospel, that are hid from the 
eyes of natural men, the truth of which does in effect consist in this excellency, 
or does so immediately depend upon it, and result from it, that in this excellen 
cy s being seen, the truth of those things is seen. As soon as ever the eyes are 
opened to behold the holy beauty and amiableness that is in divine things, a 
multitude of most important doctrines of the gospel that depend upon it ( which 
all appear strange and dark to natural men) are at once seen to be true. As 
for instance, hereby appears the truth of what the word of God declares con 
cerning the exceeding evil of sin ; for the same eye that discerns the transcen 
dent beauty of holiness, necessarily therein sees the exceeding odiousness of 
sin : the same taste which relishes the sweetness of true moral good, tastes 
the bitterness of moral evil. And by this means a man sees his own sinful- 
ness and loathsomeness ; for he has now a sense to discern objects of this nature ; 
and so sees the truth of what the word of God declares concerning the exceed 
ing sinfulness of mankind, which before he did not see. He now sees the dreadful 
pollution of his heart, and the desperate depravity of his nature, in a new manner ; 
for his soul has now a sense given it to feel the pain of such a disease ; and this 
shows him the truth of what the Scripture reveals concerning the corruption of 
man s nature, his original siii, and the ruinous, undone condition man is in. and 
his need of a Saviour, his need of the mighty power of God to renew his heart 
and change his nature. Men, by seeing the true excellency of holiness, do see 
the glory of all those things, which both reason and Scripture show to be in 
the divine Being ; for it has been shown, that the glory of them depends on 
this : and hereby they see the truth of all that the Scripture declares concerning 
God s glorious excellency and majesty, his being the fountain of all good, the 
only happiness of the creature, &c. And this again shows the mind the truth 
of what the Scripture teaches concerning the evil of sin against so glorious a 
God; and also the truth of what it teaches concerning sin s just desert of that 
dreadful punishment which it reveals ; and also concerning the impossibility of 
our offering any satisfaction, or sufficient atonement for that which is so infinitely 
evil and heinous. And this again shows the truth of what the Scripture reveals 
concerning the necessity of a Saviour, to offer an atonement of infinite value 
for sin. And this sense of spiritual beauty that has been spoken of, enables the 
roul to see the glory of those things which the gospel reveals concerning the 
person of Christ ; and so enables to see the exceeding beauty and dignity of his 
person, appearing in what the gospel exhibits of his word, works, acts, and life : 
and this apprehension of the superlative dignity of his person shows the truth 
of what the gospel declares concerning the value of his blood and righteousness, 
and so the infinite excellency of that offering he has made to God for us, and so 
its sufficiency to atone for our sins, and recommend us to God. And thus the 
Spirit of God discovers the way of salvation by Christ ; thus the soul sees the 
fitness and suitableness of this way of salvation, the admirable wisdom of the 
contrivance, and the perfect answerableness of the provision that the gospel exhi 
bits (as made for us) to our necessities. A sense of true divine beauty being 
given to the soul, the soul discerns the beauty of every part of the gospel 
scheme. This also shows the soul the truth of what the word of God declares 


concerning man s chief happiness, as consisting in holy exercises and enjoyments. 
This shows the truth of what the gospel declares concerning the unspeakable 
glory of the heavenly state. And what the prophecies of the Old Testament, 
and the writings of the apostles declare concerning the glory of the Messiah s 
kingdom, is now all plain ; and also what the Scripture teaches concerning the 
reasons and grounds of our duty. The truth of all these things revealed in the 
Scripture, and many more that might be mentioned, appears to the soul, only by 
imparting that spiritual taste of divine beauty, which has been spoken of; they 
being hidden things to the soul before. 

And besides all this, the truth of all those things which the Scripture says 
about experimental religion, is hereby known ; for they are now experienced. 
And this convinces the soul, that one who knew the heart of man, better than 
we know our own hearts, and perfectly knew the nature of virtue and holiness, 
was the author of the Scriptures. And the opening to view, with such clearness, 
such a world of wonderful and glorious truth in the gospel, that before was 
unknown, being quite above the view of a natural eye, but now appearing so 
clear and bright, has a powerful and invincible influence on the soul, to persuade 
of the divinity of the gospel. 

Unless men may come to a reasonable, solid persuasion and conviction of 
the truth of the gospel, by the internal evidences of it, in the way that has been 
spoken, viz., by a sight of its glory ; it is impossible that those who are illiterate, 
and unacquainted with history, should have any thorough and effectual convic 
tion of it at all. They may without this, see a great deal of probability of it ; 
It may be reasonable for them to give much credit to what learned men and 
historians tell them ; and they may tell them so much, that it may look very 
probable and rational to them, that the Christian religion is true ; and so much 
that they would be very unreasonable not to entertain this opinion. But to 
have a conviction, so clear, and evident, and assuring, as to be sufficient to in 
duce them, with boldness to sell all, confidently and fearlessly to run the venture 
of the loss of all things, and of enduring the most exquisite and long continued 
torments, and to trample the world under foot, and count all things but dung for 
Christ ; the evidence they can have from history, cannot be sufficient. It is 
impossible that men, who have not something of a general view of the histori 
cal world, or the series of history from age to age, should come at the force of 
arguments for the truth of Christianity, drawn from history, to that degree, as 
effectually to induce them to venture their all upon it. After all that learned 
men have said to them, there will remain innumerable doubts on their minds ; 
they will be ready, when pinched with some great trial of their faith, to say, 
" How do I know this, or that ? How do I know when these histories were 
written ? Learned men tell me these histories were so and so attested in the 
day of them ; but how do I know that there were such attestations then ? They 
tell me there is equal reason to believe these facts, as any whatsoever that are 
related at such a distance ; but how do I know that other facts which are rela 
ted of those ages, ever were 1 Those who have not something of a general 
view of the series of historical events, and of the state of mankind from age to 
age, cannot see the clear evidence from history, of the truth of facts, in distant 
ages ; but there will endless doubts and scruples remain. 

But the gospel was not given only for learned men. There are at least nine 
teen in twenty, if not ninety-nine in a hundred, of those for whom the Scriptures 
were written, that are not capable of any certain or effectual conviction of the 
divine authority of the Scriptures, by such arguments as learned men make use 
of. If men who have been brought up in Heathenism, must wait for a cleai 


and certain conviction of the truth of Christianity, until they have learning and 
acquaintance with the histories of politer nations, enough to see clearly the force 
of such kind of arguments; it will make the evidence of the gospel to them 
immensely cumbersome, and will render the propagation of the gospel among 
them infinitely difficult. Miserable is the condition of the Houssatunnuck In 
dians, and others, who have lately manifested a desire to be instructed in Chris 
tianity, if they can come at no evidence of the truth of Christianity, sufficient 
to induce them to sell all for Christ, in any other way but this. 

It is unreasonable to suppose, that God has provided for his people no more 
than probable evidence of the truth of the gospel. He has with great care, 
abundantly provided, and given them, the most convicting, assuring, satisfying 
and manifold evidence of his faithfulness in the covenant of grace ; and as 
David says, " made a covenant, ordered in all things and sure." Therefore it 
is rational to suppose, that at the same time, he would not fail of ordering the 
matter so, that there should not be wanting, as great, and clear evidence, that 
this is his covenant, and that these promises are his promises ; or, which is the 
same thing, that the Christian religion is true, and that the gospel is his \vord. 
Otherwise in vain are those great assurances he has given of his faithfulness in 
his covenant, by confirming it w r ith his oath, and so variously establishing it by 
seals and pledges. For the evidence that it is his covenant, is properly the 
foundation on which all the force and effect of those other assurances do stand. 
We may therefore undoubtedly suppose and conclude, that there is some sort of 
evidence which God has given, that this covenant, and these promises are his, 
beyond all mere probability ; that there are some grounds of assurance of it 
held forth, which, if we were not blind to them, tend to give a higher persua 
sion, than any arguing from history, human tradition, &c., which the illiterate 
and unacquainted with history are capable of; yea, that which is good ground 
of the highest and most perfect assurance, that mankind have in any case what 
soever, agreeable to those high expressions which the apostle uses, Heb. x. 22, 
" Let us draw near in full assurance of faith." And Col. ii. 2, " That their hearts 
might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full 
assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and 
of the Father, and of Christ." It is reasonable to suppose, that God would give 
the greatest evidence of those things which are greatest, and the truth of which 
is of greatest importance to us : and that we therefore, if we are wise, and act ra 
tionally, shall have the greatest desire of having full, undoubting and perfect 
assurance of. But it is certain, that such an assurance is not to be attained by 
the greater part of them who live under the gospel, by arguments fetched from 
ancient traditions, histories, and monuments. 

And if we come to fact and experience, there is not the least reason to sup 
pose, that one in a hundred of those who have been sincere Christians, and have 
had a heart to sell all for Christ, have come by their conviction of the truth of 
the gospel this way. If we read over the histories of the many thousands that 
died martyrs for Christ, since the beginning of the Reformation, and have cheer 
fully undergone extreme tortures in a confidence of the truth of the gospel, and 
consider their circumstances and advantages ; how few of them were there, that 
we can reasonably suppose, ever came by their assured persuasion this way ; or 
indeed for whom it was possible, reasonably to receive so full and strong an as 
surance, from such arguments ! Many of them w^ere weak women and children, 
and the greater part of them illiterate, persons, many of whom had been brought 
up in popish ignorance and darkness, and were but newly come out of it, and 
lived and died in times wherein those arguments for the truth of Christianity, 


from antiquity and history, had been but very imperfectly handled. And indeed, 
it is but very lately that these arguments have been set in a clear and convinc 
ing light, even by learned men themselves : and since it has been done, there, 
never were fewer thorough believers among those who have been educated in 
the true religion ; infidelity never prevailed so much, in any age, as in this, 
wherein these arguments are handled to the greatest advantage. 

The true martyrs of Jesus Christ, are not those who have only been strong 
in opinion that the gospel of Christ is true, but those that have seen the truth 
of it ; as the very name of martyrs or witnesses (by which they are called in 
Scripture) implies. Those are very improperly called witnesses of the truth of 
any thing , who only declare they are very much of opinion that such a thing is 
true. Those only are proper witnesses, who can, and do testify, that they have 
seen the truth of the thing they assert: John iii. 11, " We speak that we do 
know, and testify that we have seen." John i. 34, " And I saw and bare record, 
that this is the Son of God." 1 John iv. 14, " And we have seen and do testify, 
that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." Acts xxii. 14, 15, 
"The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldst know his will, and 
see that just one, and shouldst hear the voice of his mouth ; for thou shalt be 
his witness unto all men, of what thou hast seen and heard." But the true 
martyrs of Jesus Christ are called his witnesses ; and all the saints, who by their 
holy practice under great trials, declare that faith, which is the substance of 
things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, are called witnesses, Heb. 
xi. 1, and xii. 1, because by their profession and practice, they declare their as 
surance of the truth and divinity of the gospel, having had the eyes of their 
minds enlightened to see divinity in the gospel, or to behold that unparalleled, 
ineffably excellent, and truly divine glory shining in it, which is altogether 
distinguishing, evidential, and convincing : so that they may truly be said to have 
seen God in it, and to have seen that it is indeed divine ; and so can speak in 
the style of witnesses ; and not only say, that they think the gospel is divine, 
but say, that it is divine, giving it in as their testimony, because they have seen 
it to be so. Doubtless Peter, James and John, after they had seen that excel 
lent glory of Christ in the mount, would have been ready, when they came 
down, to speak in the language of witnesses, and to say positively that Jesus is 
the Son of God ; as Peter says, they were eyewitnesses, 2 Pet. i. 16. And so 
all nations will be ready positively to say this, when they shall behold his glory 
at the "day of judgment ; though what will be universally seen, will be. only his 
natural glory, and not his moral and spiritual glory, which is much more distin 
guishing. But yet it must be noted, that among those who have a spiritual 
sight of the divine glory of the gospel, there is a great variety of degrees of 
strength of faith, as there is a vast variety of the degrees of clearness of views 
of this glory : but there is no true and saving faith, or spiritual conviction of the 
judgment, of the truth of the gospel, that has nothing in it, of this manifestation 
of its internal evidence in some degree. The gospel of the blessed God does 
not go abroad a begging for its evidence, so much as some think ; it has its 
highest and most proper evidence in itself. Though great use may be made of 
external arguments, they are not to be neglected, but highly prized and valued ; 
ior they may be greatly serviceable to awaken unbelievers, and bring them to 
serious consideration, and to confirm the faith of true saints ; yea, they may be 
in some respect subservient to the begetting of a saving faith in men. Though 
what was said before remains true, that there is no spiritual conviction of the 
judgment, but what arises from an apprehension of the spiritual beauty and glory 
of divine things : for, as has been observed, this apprehension or VIPW has a 


tendency to convince the mind of the truth of the gospel, two ways, either di 
rectly or indirectly. Having therefore already observed how it does this di 
rectly, I proceed now, 

2. To observe how a view of this divine glory does convince the mind of 
the truth of Christianity, more indirectly. 

First, It doth so, as the prejudices of the heart against the truth of divine 
things are hereby removed, so that the mind thereby lies open to the force of 
the reasons which are offered. The mind of man is naturally full of enmity 
against the doctrines of the gospel ; which is a disadvantage to those argu 
ments that prove their truth, and causes them to lose their force upon the mind; 
but when a person has discovered to him the divine excellency of Christian 
doctrines, this destroys that enmity, and removes the prejudices, and sanctifies 
the reason, and causes it to be open and free. Hence is a vast difference, as to 
the force that arguments have to convince the mind. Hence was the very dif 
ferent effect, which Christ s miracles had to convince the disciples, from, what 
they had to convince the Scribes and Pharisees : not that they had a stronger 
reason, or had their reason more improved ; but their reason was sanctified, and 
those blinding prejudices, which the Scribes and Pharisees were under, were 
removed by the sense they had of the excellency of Christ and his doctrine. 

Secondly, It not only removes the hinderances of reason, but positively helps 
reason. It makes even the speculative notions more lively. It assists and, en 
gages the attention of the mind to that kind of objects which causes it to have 
a clearer view of them, and more clearly to see their mutual relations. The 
ideas themselves, which otherwise are dim and obscure, by this means have a 
light cast upon them, and are impressed with greater strength, so that the mind 
can better judge of them ; as he that beholds the objects on the face of the 
earth, when the light of the sun is cast upon them, is under greater advantage 
to discern them, in their true forms, and mutual relations, and to see the evi 
dences of divine wisdom and skill in their contrivance, than he that sees them in 
a dim starlight, or twilight. 

What has been said, may serve in some measure to show the nature of a 
spiritual conviction of the judgment of the truth and reality of divine things ; 
and so to distinguish truly gracious affections from others ; for gracious affections 
are evermore attended with such a conviction of the judgment. 

But before I dismiss this head, it will be needful to observe the ways where 
by some are deceived, with respect to this matter ; and take notice of several 
things, that are sometimes taken for a spiritual and saving belief of the truth of 
tee things of religion; which are indeed very diverse from it. ) 

1. There is a degree of conviction of the truth of the great things of religion, 
that arises from the common enlightenings of the Spirit of God. That more 
lively and sensible apprehension of the things of religion, with respect to what 
is natural in them, such as natural men have who are under awakenings and 
common illuminations, will give some degree of conviction of the truth of divine 
things, beyond what they had before they were thus enlightened. For hereby 
they see the manifestations there are, in the revelation made in the holy Scrip 
tures, and things exhibited in that revelation, of the natural perfections of God ; 
such as his greatness, power, and awful majesty; which tends to convince the 
mind, that this is the word of a great and terrible God. From the tokens there 
are of God s greatness and majesty in his word and works, which they have a 
great sense of, from the common influence of the Spirit of God, they may have 
a much greater conviction that these are indeed the words and works of a very 
great invisible Being. And the lively apprehension of the greatness of God, 


which natural men may have, tends to make them sensible of the great guilt, 
which sin against such a God brings, and the dreadful ness of his wrath for sin. 
And this tends to cause them more easily and fully to believe the revelation the 
Scripture makes of another world, and of the extreme misery it threatens . there 
to be inflicted on sinners. And so from that sense of the great natural good 
there is in the things of religion, which is sometimes given in common illumina 
tions, men may be the more induced to believe the truth of religion. These 
things persons may have, and yet have no sense of the beauty and amiableness 
of the moral and holy excellency that is in the things of religion ; and therefore 
no spiritual conviction of their truth. But yet such convictions are sometimes 
mistaken for saving convictions, and the affections flowing from them, for saving 

2. The extraordinary impressions which are made on the imaginations of 
some persons, in the visions and immediate strong impulses and suggestions that 
they have, as though they saw sights, and had words spoken to them, may, and 
often do beget a strong persuasion of the truth of invisible things. Though the 
general tendency of such things, in their final issue, is to draw men off from the 
word of God, and to cause them to reject the gospel, and to establish unbelief 
and Atheism ; yet for the present, they may, and often do beget a confident 
persuasion of the truth of somethings that are revealed in the Scriptures; however 
their confidence is founded in delusion, and so nothing worth. As for instance, 
if a person has by some invisible agent, immediately and strongly impressed on 
his imagination, the appearance of a bright light, and glorious form of a person 
seated on a throne, with great external majesty and beauty, uttering some re 
markable words, with great force and energy ; the person who is the subject of 
such an operation, may be from hence confident, that there are invisible agents, 
.spiritual beings, from what he has experienced, knowing that he had no hand 
himself in this extraordinary effect, which he has experienced : and he may also 
be .confident, that this is Christ whom he saw and heard speaking : and this may 
make him confident that there is a Christ, and that Christ reigns on a throne in 
heaven, as he saw him ; and may be confident that the words which he heard 
him speak are true, &c. In the same manner, as the lying miracles of the Pa 
pists may, for the present, beget in the minds of the ignorant deluded people, a 
strong persuasion of the truth of many things declared in the New Testament. 
Thus when the images of Christ, in Popish churches, are on some extraordinary 
occasions, made by priestcraft to appear to the people as if they wept, and shed 
fresh blood, and moved, and uttered such and such words; the people may be 
verily persuaded that it is a miracle wrought by Christ himself; and from thence 
may be confident there is a Christ, and that what they are told of his death and 
sufferings, and resurrection, and ascension, and present government or the world 
is true ; for they may look upon this miracle, as a certain evidence of all these 
things, and a kind of ocular demonstration of them. This may be the influence 
of these lying wonders for the present ; though the general tendency of them 
is not to convince that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, but finally to promote 
Atheism. Even the intercourse which Satan has with witches, and their often 
experiencing his immediate power, has a tendency to convince them of the truth 
of some of the doctrines of religion ; as particularly the reality of an invisible 
world, or world of spirits, contrary to the doctrine of the Sadducees. The gen 
eral tendency of Satan s influence is delusion : but yet he may mix some truth 
with his lies, that his lies may not be so easily discovered. 

There are multitudes that are deluded with a counterfeit faith, from impres 
sions on their imagination, in the manner which has been now spoken of. They 


say they know that there is a God, for they have seen him ; they know that 
Christ is the Son of God, for they have seen him in his glory ; they know that 
Christ died for sinners, for they have seen him hanging on the cross, and his 
blood running from his wounds; they know there is a heaven and a hell, for 
they have seen the misery of the damned souls in hell, and the glory of saints 
arid angels in heaven (meaning some external representations, strongly impress 
ed on their imagination) ; they know that the Scriptures are the word of God, 
and that such and such promises in particular are his word, for they have heard 
him speak them to them, they came to their minds suddenly and immediately 
from God, without their having any hand in it. 

3. Persons may seem to have their belief of the truth of the things of reli 
gion greatly increased, when the foundation of it is only a persuasion they have 
received of their interest in them. They first, by some means or other, take up 
a confidence, that if there be a Christ and heaven, they are theirs ; and this pre 
judices them more in favor of the truth of them. When they hear of the great 
and glorious things of religion, it is with this notion, that all these things belong 
to them ; and hence easily become confident that they are true ; they look upon 
it to be greatly for their interest that they should be true. It is very obvious 
what a strong influence men s interest and inclinations have on their judgments. 
While a natural man thinks, that if there be a heaven and hell, the latter, and 
not the former, belongs to him ; then he will be hardly persuaded that there is 
a heaven or hell : but when he comes to be persuaded, that hell belongs only 
to other folks, and not to him, then he can easily allow the reality of hell, and 
cry out of others senselessness and sottishness in neglecting means of escape 
from it : and being confident that he is a child of God, and that God has prom 
ised heaven to him, he may seem strong in the faith of its reality, and may have 
a great zeal against that infidelity which denies it. 

But I proceed to another distinguishing sign of gracious affections. 

VI. Gracious affections are attended with evangelical humiliation. 

Evangelical humiliation is a sense that a Christian has of his own utter 
.insufficiency, despicableness, and odiousnesss, with an answerable frame of 

There is a distinction to be made between a legal and evangelical humiliation 
The former is what men may be the subjects of, while they are yet in a state of 
nature, and have no gracious affections ; the latter is peculiar to true saints : 
the former is from the common influence of the Spirit of God, assisting natural 
principles, and especially natural conscience ; the latter is from the special in 
fluences of the Spirit of God, implanting and exercising supernatural and divine 
principles : the former is from the mind s being assisted to a greater sense of tke 
things of religion, as to their natural properties and qualities, and particularly 
of the natural perfections of God, such as his greatness, terrible majesty, &c*, 
which were manifested to the congregation of Israel, in giving the law at mount 
Sinai : the latter is from a sense of the transcendent beauty of divine things in 
their moral qualities : in the former, a sense of the awful greatness, and natural 
perfections of God, and of the strictness of his law, convinces men that they 
are exceeding sinful, and guilty, and exposed to the wrath of God, as it will 
wicked men and devils at the day of judgment ; but they do not see their own 
odiousness on the account of sin ; they do not see the hateful nature of sin ; a 
sense of this is given in evangelical humiliation, by a discovery of the beauty 
of God s holiness and moral perfection. In a legal humiliation, men are made 
sensible that they are little and nothing before the great and terrible God, and 
that they are undone, and wholly insufficient to help themselves : as wicked 

VOL. Ill 18 


men will be at the day of judgment : but they have not an answerable frame 
of heart, consisting in a disposition to abase themselves, and exalt God alone ; 
this disposition is given only in evangelical humiliation, by overcoming the heart, 
and changing its inclination, by a discovery of God s holy beauty : in a legal 
humiliation, the conscience is convinced ; as the consciences of all will be most 
perfectly at the day of judgment ; but because there is no spiritual understand 
ing, the will is not bowed, nor the inclination altered : this is done only in 
evangelical humiliation. In legal humiliation, men are brought to despair of 
helping themselves ; in evangelical, they are brought voluntarily to deny and 
renounce themselves : in the former, they are subdued and forced to the ground ; 
in the latter, they are brought sweetly to yield, and freely and with delight to 
prostrate themselves at the feet of God. 

Legal humiliation has in it no spiritual good, nothing of the nature of true 
virtue ; whereas evangelical humiliation is that, wherein the excellent beauty 
of Christian grace does very much consist. Legal humiliation is useful, as a 
means in order to evangelical ; as a common knowledge of the things of religion 
is a means requisite in order to spiritual knowledge. Men may be legally 
humbled and have no humility: as the wicked at the day of judgment will be 
thoroughly convinced that they have no righteousness, but are altogether sinful, 
and exceedingly guilty, and justly exposed to eternal damnation, and be fully 
sensible of their own helplessness, without the least mortification of the pride of 
their hearts : but the essence of evangelical humiliation consists in such humility, 
as becomes a creature, in itself exceeding sinful, under a dispensation of grace ; 
consisting in a mean esteem of himself, as in himself nothing, and altogether 
contemptible and odious ; attended with a mortification of a disposition to exalt 
himself, and a free renunciation of his own glory. 

This is a great and most essential thing in true religion. The whole frame 
of the gospel, and every thing appertaining to the new covenant, and all God s 
dispensations towards fallen man, are calculated to bring to pass this effect in 
the hearts of men. They that are destitute of this, have no true religion, what 
ever profession they may make, and how high soever their religious affections 
may be : Hab. ii. 4, " Behold, his soul which is lifted up, is not upright in him ; 
but the just shall live by his faith ;" i. e., he shall live by his faith on God s 
righteousness and grace, and not his own goodness and excellency. God has 
abundantly manifested in his word, that this is what he has a peculiar respect 
to in his saints, and that nothing is acceptable to him without it. Psalm xxxiv. 
18, " The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as 
be of a contrite spirit." Psalm li. 17, " The sacrifices of God are a broken 
spirit : a broken and a contrite heart, God, thou wilt not despise." Psalm 
cxxxviii. 6, " Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly." 
Prov. iii. 34, " He giveth grace unto the lowly." Isa. Ivii. 15, " Thussaith the 
high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy, I dwell in the 
high and holy place ; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to 
revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." 
Isa. Ixvi. 1, 2, " Thus saith the Lord, the heaven is my throne, and the earth is 
my footstool : but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a 
contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." Micah vi. 8, " He hath showed 
thee, man, what is good ; and what doth the Lord thy God require of thee ; 
but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God ?" Matt, 
v. 3, " Blessed are the poor in spirit ; for theirs is the kingdom of God." Matt, 
xviii. 3, 4, " Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as 
little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever 


therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the 
kingdom of heaven." Mark x. 15, " Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not 
receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." The 
centurion, that we have an account of, Luke vii., acknowledged that he was not 
worthy that Christ should enter under his roof, and that he was not worthy to 
come to him. See the manner of the woman s coming to. Christ, that was a 
sinner, Luke vii. 37, c. : " And behold, a woman in the city, which was a sin 
ner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee s house, brought an 
alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began 
to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head." She 
did not think the hair of her head, which is the natural crown and glory of a 
woman (1 Cor. xi. 15), too good to wipe the feet of Christ withal. Jesus 
most graciously accepted her, and says to her, " thy faith hath saved thee, go in 
peace." The woman of Canaan submitted to Christ, in his saying, " it is not 
meet to take the children s bread and cast it to dogs," and did as it were own 
that she was worthy to be called a dog ; whereupon Christ says unto her, " 
woman, great is thy faith ; be it unto thee, even as thou wilt," Matt. xv. 26, 
27, 28. The prodigal son said, " I will arise and go to my father, and I will 
say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no 
more worthy to be called thy son : make me as one of thy hired servants," 
Luke xv. 18, &c. See also Luke xviii. 9, &c. : " And he spake this parable unto 
certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others, 
&c. The publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes to 
heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I 
tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other : for 
every one that exalteth himself, shall be abased ; and he that humbleth himself, 
shall be exalted." Matt, xxviii. 9, " And they came, and held him by the feet, 
and worshipped him." Col. iii. 12, " Put ye on, as the elect of God, humble 
ness of mind." Ezek. xx. 41, 42, I will accept you with your sweet savor, 
when I bring you out from the people, &c. And there shall ye remember your 
ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled, and ye shall loathe 
yourselves in your own sight, for all your evils that ye have committed." Chap, 
xxxvi. 26, 27, 31, " A new heart also will I give unto you and I will put my 
Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, &c. Then shall ye 
remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall 
loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities, and for your abominations." 
Chap. xvi. 63, " That thou mayest remember and be confounded, and never open 
thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for 
all that thou hast done, saith the Lord." Job xlii. 6, " I abhor myself, and 
repent in dust and ashes." 

As we would therefore make the holy Scriptures our rule in judging of the 
nature of true religion, and judging of our own religious qualifications and state ; 
it concerns us greatly to look at this humiliation, as one of the most essential 
things pertaining to true Christianity.* This is the principal part of the great 
Christian duty of self-denial. That duty consists in two things, viz.,^ntf, in a 
man s denying his worldly inclinations, and in forsaking and renouncing all 
worldly objects and enjoyments ; and, secondly, in denying his natural self-ex- 

* Calvin, in his Institutions, Book II. chap. 2. 11, says, "I was always exceedingly pleased with 
that saying of Chrysostom, " The foundation of our philosophy is humility ;" and yet more pleased with 
that of Augustine : " As," says he, " the rhetorician being asked, what, was the first thing in the rules of 
eloquence, he answered, pronunciation ; what was the second, pronunciation ; what was the third, still 
he answered, pronunciation. So if you shall ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, 
1 would answer, firstly, secondly, and thirdly, and forever, humility." 


altation, and renouncing his own dignity and glory, and in being emptied of 
himself; so that he does freely and from his very heart, as it were renounce 
himself, and annihilate himself. Thus the Christian doth in evangelical humi 
liation. And this latter is the greatest and most difficult part of self-denial : 
although they always go together, and one never truly is, where the other is 
not ; yet natural men can come much nearer to the former than the latter. 
Many Anchorites and Recluses have abandoned (though without any true mor 
tification) the wealth, and pleasures, and common enjoyments of the world, who 
were far from renouncing their own dignity and righteousness ; they never de 
nied themselves for Christ, but only sold one lust to feed another, sold a beastly 
lust to pamper a devilish one ; and so were never the better, but their latter end 
was worse than their beginning ; they turned out one black devil, to let in 
seven white ones, that were worse than the first, though of a fairer countenance. 
It is inexpressible, and almost inconceivable, how strong a self-righteous, self 
exalting disposition is naturally in man ; and what he will not do and suffer to 
feed and gratify it : and what lengths have been gone in a seeming self-denial 
in other respects, by Essenes arid Pharisees- among the Jews, and by Papists, 
many sects of heretics, and enthusiasts, among professing Christians ; and by 
many Mahometans ; and by Pythagorean philosophers, and others among the 
Heathen ; and all to do sacrifice to this Moloch of spiritual pride or self-right 
eousness ; and that they may have something wherein to exalt themselves be 
fore God, and above their fellow creatures. 

That humiliation which has been spoken of, is what all the most glorious 
hypocrites, who make the most splendid show of mortification to the world, and 
high religious affection, do grossly fail in. Were it not that this is so much in 
sisted on in Scripture, as a most essential thing in true grace, one would be 
tempted to think that many of the heathen philosophers were truly gracious, in 
whom was so bright an appearance of many virtues, and also great illumina 
tions, and inward fervors and elevations of mind, as though they were truly the 
subjects of divine illapses and heavenly communications.* It is true, that many 
hypocrites make great pretences to humility, as well as other graces ; and very 
often there is nothing whatsoever which they make a higher profession of. 
They endeavor to make a gteat show of humility in speech and behavior ; but 
they commonly make bungling work of it, though glorious work in their own 
eyes. They cannot find out what a humble speech and behavior is, or how to 
speak and act so that there may indeed be a savor of Christian humility in what 
they say and do : that sweet humble air and mien is beyond their art, being not 
led by the Spirit, or naturally guided to a behavior becoming holy humility, by 

* " Albeit the Pythagoreans were.thus famous for Judaic mysterious wisdom, and many moral, as well 
as natural accomplishments, yet w ere they not exempted from boasting and pride ; which was indeed a vice 
most epidemic, and as it were congenial, among all the philosophers ; but in a more particular manner, 
among the Pythagoreans. So Hornius Hist. "Philosoph. L. HI. chap. xi. The manrieis of the Pytha 
goreans were not free from boasting. They were all such as abounded in the sense and commendation 
of their own excellencies, and boasting even almost to the degree of immodesty and impudence, as 
great Heinsius, ad Horat. has rightly observed. Thus indeed does proud nature delight to walk in the 
sparks of its own fire. And although many of these old philosophers could, by the strength of their own 
lights and heats, together with some common elevations and raisures of spirit (peradventure from a 
more than ordinary, though not special and savins assistance of the Spirit), abandon many grosser vices; 
yet they were all deeply immersed in that miserable cursed abyss of spiritual pride : so that all their 
natural, and moral, and philosophic attainments, did feed, nourish, strengthen and render most inveter 
ate, this hell-bred pest of their hearts. Yea, those of them that seemed most modest, as the Academics, 
who professed they knew nothing, and the Cynics, who greatly decried, both in words and habits, the 
pride of others, yet even they abounded in the most notorious and visible pride. So connatural and mo 
rally essential to corrupt nature, is this envenomed root, fountain, and plague of spiritual pride ; especial 
ly where there is any natural, moral, or philosophic excellence to feed the same. Whence, Austin rightly 
judged all these philosophic virtues to be but splendid sins. Gale s Court of the Gentiles, Part T l. B. JL 
ckap. x. 17. 


the vigor of a lowly spirit within them. And therefore they have no other way, 
many of them, but only to be much in declaring that they be humble, and tell 
ing how they were humbled to the dust at such and such times, and abounding 
in very bad expressions which they use about themselves ; such as, " I am the 
least of all saints, I am a poor vile creature, I am not worthy of the least mercy, 
or that God should look upon me ! Oh, I have a dreadful wicked heart ! My 
heart is worse than the devil ! Oh, this cursed heart of mine," &c. Such ex 
pressions are very often used, not with a heart that is broken, not with spiritu 
al mourning, not with the tears of her that washed Jesus s feet, not as " re 
membering and being confounded, and never opening their mouth more because 
of their shame, when God is pacified," as the expression is, Ezek. xvi. 63, but 
with a light air, with smiles in the countenance, or with a pharisaical affectation : 
and we must believe that they are thus humble, and see themselves so vile, upon 
the credit of their say so ; for there is nothing appears in them of any s ivor of 
humility, in the manner of their deportment and deeds that they do. There are 
many that are full of expressions of their own vileness, who yet expect to be 
looked upon as eminent and bright saints by others, as their due ; and it is dan 
gerous for any, so much as to hint the contrary, or to carry it towards them any 
otherwise, than as if we looked upon them as some of the chief of Christians. 
There are many that are much in crying out of their wicked hearts, and their 
great short comings, and unprofitableness, and speaking as though they looked 
on themselves as the meanest of the saints ; who yet, if a minister should 
seriously tell them the same things in private, and should signify, that he feared 
they were very low and weak Christians, and thought they had reason solemn 
ly to consider of their great barrenness and unprofitableness, and falling so much 
short of many others, it would be more than they could digest ; they would 
think themselves highly injured ; and there would be a danger of a rooted pre 
judice in them against such a minister. 

There are some that are abundant in talking against legal doctrines, legal 
preaching, and a legal spirit, who do but little understand the thing they talk 
against. A legal spirit is a more subtle thing than they imagine ; it is too 
subtle for them. It lurks, and operates, and prevails in their hearts, and they 
are most notoriously guilty of it, at the same time, when they are inveighing 
against it. So far as a man is not emptied of himself, and of his own righteous 
ness and goodness, in whatever form or shape, so far he is of a legal spirit. A 
spirit of pride of man s own righteousness, morality, holiness, affection, expe 
rience, faith, humiliation, or any goodness whatsoever, is a legal spirit. It was 
no pride in Adam before the fall, to be of a legal spirit \ because of his circum 
stances, he might seek acceptance by his own righteousness. But a legal spirit 
in a fallen, sinful creature, can be nothing else but spiritual pride ; and recipro 
cally, a spiritually proud spirit is a legal spirit. There is no man living that is 
lifted up with a conceit of his own experiences and discoveries, and upon the 
account of them glisters in his own eyes, but what trusts in his experiences, and 
makes a righteousness of them ; however he may use humble terms, and speak 
of his experiences as of the great things God has done for him, and it may be 
calls upon others to glorify God for them ; yet he that is proud of his expe 
riences, arrogates something to himself, as though his experiences were some 
dignity of his. And if he looks on them as his own dignity, he necessarily 
thinks that God looks on them so too : for he necessarily thinks his own opinion 
of them to be true ; and consequently judges that God looks on them as he does ; 
and so unavoidably imagines that God looks on his experiences as a dignity in 
him, as he looks on them himself; and that he glisters as much in God s eyes, 


as he does in his own. And thus he trusts in what is inherent in him, to make 
him shine in God s sight, and recommend him to God : and with this encou 
ragement he goes before God in prayer ; and this makes him expect much from 
God ; and this makes him think that Christ loves him, and that he is willing to 
clothe him with his righteousness ; because he supposes that he is taken with his 
experiences and graces. And this is a high degree of living on his own right 
eousness ; and such persons are in the high road to hell. Poor -deluded 
wretches, who think they look so glistering in God s eyes, when they are a 
smoke in his nose, and are many of them more odious to him, than the most im 
pure beast in Sodom, that makes no pretence to religion ! To do as these do, is 
to live upon experiences, according to the true notion of it ; and not to do as those, 
who only make use of spiritual experiences, as evidences of a state of grace, and 
in that way receive hope and comfort from them. 

There is a sort of men, who indeed abundantly cry down works, and cry up 
faith in opposition to works, and set up themselves very much as evangelical 
persons, in opposition to those that are of a legal spirit, and make a fair show 
of advancing Christ and the gospel, and the way of free grace ; who are in 
deed some of the greatest enemies to the gospel way of free grace, and the most 
dangerous opposers of pure humble Christianity. 

There is a pretended great humiliation, and being dead to the law, and 
emptied of self, which is one of the biggest and most elated things in the world. 
Some there are, who have made great profession of experience of a thorough 
work of the law on their hearts, and of being brought fully off from works ; 
whose conversation has savored most of a self-righteous spirit of any that ever I 
had opportunity to observe. And some who think themselves quite emptied of 
themselves, and are confident that they are abased in the dust, are full as they 
can hold with the glory of their own humility, and lifted up to heaven with a 
high opinion of their own abasement. Their humility is a swelling, self-con 
ceited, confident, showy, noisy, assuming humility. It seems to be the nature 
of spiritual pride to make men conceited and ostentatious of their humility. This 
appears in that first born of pride among the children of men, that would be 
called his holiness, even the man of sin, that exalts himself above all that is 
called God or is worshipped ; he styles himself Servant of servants ; and to make 
a show of humility, washes the feet of a number of poor men at his inaugura 

For persons to be truly emptied of themselves, and to be poor in spirit, and 
broken in heart, is quite another thing, and has other effects, than many imagine. 
It is astonishing how greatly many are deceived about themselves as to this 
matter, imagining themselves most humble, when they are most proud, and 
their behavior is really the most haughty. The deceitfulness of the heart of 
man appears in no one thing so much as this of spiritual pride and self-right 
eousness. The subtilty of Satan appears in its height, in his managing of per 
sons with respect to this sin. And perhaps one reason may be, that here he has 
most experience ; he knows the way of its coming in ; he is acquainted with 
the secret springs of it : it was his own sin. Experience gives vast advantage 
in leading souls, either in good or evil. | 

But though spiritual pride be so subtle and secret an iniquity, and commonly 
appears under a pretext of great humility ; yet there are two things by which 
it may (perhaps universally and surely) be discovered and distinguished. 

The first thing is this ; he that is under the prevalence of this distemper, u 
apt to think highly of his attainments in religion, as comparing himself with 
others It is natural for him to fall into that thought of himself, that he is an 


eminent saint, that he is very high amongst the saints, and has distinguishirigly 
good and great experiences. That is the secret language of his heart: Luke 
xviii. 11, " God, I thank thee that I am not as other men." And Isa. Ixv. 5, 
" I am holier than thou." Hence such are apt to put themselves forward among 
God s people, and as it were to take a high seat among them, as if there was 
no doubt of it but it belonged to them. They, as it were, naturally do that 
which Christ condemns, Luke xiv. 7, &c., take the highest room. This they 
do, by being forward to take upon them the place and business of the chief; to 
guide, teach, direct, and manage ; " they are confident that they are guides to 
the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, instructors of the foolish, 
teachers of babes," Rom. ii. 19, 20. It is natural for them to take it for granted, 
that it belongs to them to do the part of dictators and masters in matters of re 
ligion ; and so they implicitly affect to be called of men Rabbi, which is by 
interpretation Master, as the Pharisees did, Matt, xxiii. 6, 7, i. e., they are yet 
apt to expect that others should regard them, and yield to them, as masters in 
matters of religion.* 

But he whose heart is under the power of Christian humility, is of a con 
trary disposition. If the Scriptures are at all to be relied on, such a one is apt 
to think his attainments in religion to be comparatively mean, and to esteem 
himself low among the saints, and one of the least of saints. Humility, or true 
lowliness of mind, disposes persons to think others better than themselves : Phil, 
ii. 3, " In lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than themselves." 
Hence they are apt to think the lowest room belongs to them, and their inward 
disposition naturally leads them to obey that precept of our Saviour, Luke xiv. 
10. It is not natural to them to take it upon them to do the part of teachers ; 
but on the contrary, they are disposed to think that they are not the persons, 
that others are fitter for it than they; as it was with Moses and Jeremiah 
(Exod. iii. 11, Jer. i. 6), though they were such eminent saints, and of great 
knowledge. It is not natural to them to think that it belongs to them to teach, 
but to be taught; they are much more eager to hear, and to receive instruction 
from others, than to dictate to others : Jam. i. 19, " Be ye swift to hear, slow to 
speak." And when they do speak, it is not natural to them to speak with a 
bold, masterly air ; but humility disposes them rather to speak, trembling. Hos. 
xiii. 1, "When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but 
when he offended in Baal, he died." They are not apt to assume authority, 
and to take upon them to be chief managers and masters ; but rather to be sub 
ject to others : Jam. iii. 1, 2, " Be not many masters." 1 Pet. v. 5, " All of 
you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility. 5 Eph. v. 21, 
" Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." 

There are some persons experiences that naturally work that way, to make 
them think highly of them ; and they do often themselves speak of their experi 
ences as very great and extraordinary ; they freely speak of the great things 
they have met with. This may be spoken and meant in a good sense. In one 
sense, every degree of saving mercy is a great thing : it is indeed a thing great, 
yea, infinitely great, for God to bestow the least crumb of children s bread on 
such dogs as we are in ourselves ; and the more humble a person is that hopes 
that God has bestowed such mercy on him, the more apt will he be to call it a 
great thing that he has met with in this sense. But if by great things which 

* " There be two things wherein it appears that a man has only common gifts, and no inward prin 
ciple : 1 . These gifts ever puff up, and make a man something in his own eyes, as the Corinthian know 
ledge did, and many a private man thinks himself fit to be a minister." Shepard s Parable, Part I. p. 181, 


they have experienced, they mean comparatively great spiritual experiences, or 
great compared with others experiences, or beyond what is ordinary, which is 
evidently oftentimes the case ; then for a person to say, I have met with great 
things, is the very same thing as to say, 1 am az? eminent saint, and have more 
grace than ordinary : for to have great experiences, if the experiences be true 
and worth the telling of, is the same thing as to have great grace : there is no 
true experience, but the exercise of grace ; and exactly according to the degree 
of true experience, is the degree of grace and holiness. The persons that talk 
thus about their experiences, when they give an account of them, expect that 
others should admire them. Indeed they do not call it boasting to talk after this 
manner about their experiences, nor do they look upon it as any sign of pride ; 
because they say, " they know that it was not they that did it, it was free grace, 
they are things that God has done for them, they would acknowledge the great 
mercy God has shown them, and not make light of it." But so it was with the 
Pharisee that Christ tells us of, Luke xviii. He in words gave God the glory 
of making him to differ from other men ; God, I thank thee, says he, that I am 
not as other men.* Their verbally ascribing it to the grace of God, that they 
are holier than other saints, does not hinder their forwardness to think so highly 
of their holiness, being a sure evidence of the pride and vanity of their minds. 
If they were under the influence of a humble spirit, their attainments in religion 
would not be so apt to shine in their own eyes, nor would they be so much in 
admiring their own beauty. The Christians that are really the most eminent 
saints, and therefore have the most excellent experiences, and are the greatest 
in the kingdom of heaven, humble themselves as a little child, Matt. viii. 4 ; 
because they look on themselves as but little children in grace, and their at 
tainments to be but the attainments of babes in Christ, and are astonished at, 
and ashamed of the low degrees of their love, and their thankfulness, and their 
little knowledge of God. Moses, when he had been conversing with God in 
the mount, and his face shone so bright in the eyes of others as to dazzle their 
eyes, wist not that his face shone. There are some persons that go by the 
name of high professors, and some will own themselves to be high professors ; 
but eminently humble saints, that will shine brightest in heaven, are not at all 
apt to profess high. I do not believe there is an eminent saint in the world that 
is a high professor. Such will be much more likely to profess themselves to be 
least of all saints, and to think that every saint s attainments and experiences 
are higher than his.f 

Such is the nature of grace, and of true spiritual light, that they naturally 
dispose the saints in the present state, to look upon their grace and goodness 
little, and their deformity great. And they that have the most grace and spir- 

* Calvin, in his Institutions, B. III. chap. xii. 7, speaking of this Pharisee, observes, " That in his 
outward ronfession, he acknowledges that the righteousness that he has, is the gift of God : but (says he) 
because he trusts that he is righteous, he goes away out of the presence of God, unacceptable and 

t Luther, as his words are cited by Rutherford, in his Display of the Spiritual Antichrist, p. 143, 
144, says thus : " So is the life of a Christian, that he that has begun, seems to himself to have nothing ; 
but strives and presses forward, that he may apprehend : whence Paul says, I count not myself to have 
apprehended. For indeed nothing is more pernicious to a believer, than that presumption, that he has 
already apprehended, and has no further need of seeking. Hence also many fall back, and pine away in 
spiritual security and slothfulness. So Bernard says, To stand still in God s way, is to go back. 
Wherefore this remains to him that has begun to be a Christian, to think that he is not yet a Christian, 
but to seek that he may be a Christian, that he may glory with Paul, I am not, but I desire to be ; a 
Christian not yet finished, but only in his beginnings. Therefore he is not a Christian, that is a Chris 
tian, that is. he that thinks himself a finished Christian, and is not sensible how he falls short. We reach 
after heaven, but we are not in neaven. Wo to him that is wholly renewed, that is, that thinks himself 
to be so. That man, without doubt, has never so much as begun to be renewed, nor did he ever taste 
what it is to be a Christian." 


itual light, of any in this world, have most of this disposition. As will appear 
most clear and evident, to any one that soberly and thoroughly weighs the nature 
and reason of things, and considers the things following. 

That grace and holiness is worthy to be called little, that is, little in com 
parison of what it ought to be. And so it seems to one that is truly gracious : 
for such a one has his eye upon the rule of his duty ; a conformity to that is 
what he aims at; it is what his soul struggles and reaches after; and it is by 
that that he estimates and judges of what he does, and what he has. To a gra 
cious soul, and especially to one eminently gracious, that holiness appears little, 
which is little of what it should be ; little of what he sees infinite reason for. 
and obligation to. If his holiness appears to him to be at a vast distance from 
this, it naturally appears despicable in his eyes, and not worthy to be mentioned 
as any beauty or amiableness in him. For the like reason as a hungry man 
naturally accounts that which is set before him, but a little food, a small matter, 
not worth mentioning, that is nothing in comparison of his appetite. Or as the 
child of a great prince, that is jealous for the honor of his father, and beholds 
the respect which men show him, naturally looks on that honor and respect very 
little, and not worthy to be regarded, which is nothing in comparison of that 
which the dignity of his father requires. 

But that is the nature of true grace and spiritual light, that it opens to a 
person s view the infinite reason there is that he should be holy in a high degree. 
And the more grace he has, the more this is opened to view, the greater sense 
he has of the infinite excellency and glory of the divine Being, and of the infi 
nite dignity of. the person of Christ, and the boundless length and breadth, and 
depth and height, of the love of Christ to sinners. And as grace increases, the 
field opens more and more to a distant view, until the soul is swallowed up with 
the vastness of the object, and the person is astonished to think how much it 
becomes him to love this God, and this glorious Redeemer, that has so loved 
man, and how little he does love. And so the more he apprehends, the more 
the smallness of his grace and love appears strange and wonderful : and there 
fore is more ready to think that others are beyond him. For wondering at the 
littleness of his own grace, he can scarcely believe that so strange a thing hap 
pens to other saints : it is amazing to him, that one that is really a child of God, 
and that has actually received the saving benefits of that unspeakable love of 
Christ, should love no more : and he is apt to look upon it as a thing peculiar 
to himself, a strange and exempt instance ; for he sees only the outside of other 
Christians, but he sees his own inside. 

Here the reader may possibly object, that love to God is really increased in 
proportion as the knowledge of God is increased ; and therefore how should an 
increase of knowledge in a saint make his love appear less, in comparison of 
what is known ? To which I answer, that although grace and the love of God 
in the saints, be answerable to the degree of knowledge or sight of God ; yet it 
is not in proportion to the object seen and known. The soul of a saint, by hav 
ing something of God opened to sight, is convinced of much more than is seen. 
There is something that is seen, that is wonderful ; and that sight brings with 
it a strong conviction of something vastly beyond, that is not immediately seen. 
So that the soul, at the same time, is astonished at its ignorance, and that it 
knows so little, as well as that it loves so little. And as the soul, in a spiritual 
view, is convinced of infinitely more in the object, yet beyond sight ; so it is 
convinced of the capacity of the soul, of knowing vastly more, if the clouds 
and darkness were but removed. Which causes the soul, in the enjoy 
ment of a spiritual view, to complain greatly of spiritual ignorance, and 

VOL. III. 19 


want of love, and to long and reach after more knowledge and more 

Grace and the love of God in the most eminent saints in this world, is truly 
very little in comparison of what it ought to be. Because the highest love that 
ever any attain to in this life, is poor, cold, exceedingly low, and not worthy to 
be named in comparison of what our obligations appear to be, from the joint 
consideration of these two things, viz. : 1. The reason God has given us to love 
him, in the manifestations he has made of his infinite glory, in his word, and in 
his works ; and particularly in the gospel of his Son, and what he has done for 
sinful man by him. And, 2. The capacity there is in the soul of man, by those 
intellectual faculties which God has given it, of seeing and understanding these 
reasons, which God has given us to love him. How small indeed is the love ot 
the most eminent saint on earth, in comparison of what these things, jointly con 
sidered, do require ! And this grace tends to convince men of this, and especially 
eminent grace; for grace is of the nature of light, and brings truth to view 
And therefore he that has much grace, apprehends much more than others that 
great height to which his love ought to ascend ; and he sees better than others, 
how little a way he has risen towards that height. And therefore estimating 
his love by the whole height of his duty, hence it appears astonishingly little 
and low in his eyes. 

And the eminent saint, having such a conviction of the high degree in which 
he ought to love God, this shows him, not only the littleness of his grace, but 
the greatness of his remaining corruption. In order to judge how much corrup 
tion or sin we have remaining in us, we must take our measure from that height 
to which the rule of our duty extends : the whole of the distance we are at from 
that height, is sin : for failing of duty is sin ; otherwise our duty is not our duty, 
and by how much the more we fall short of our duty, so much the more sin have 
we. Sin is no other than disagreeableness, in a moral agent, to the law or rule 
of his duty. And therefore the degree of sin is to be judged of by the rule : so 
much disagreeableness to the rule, so x much sin, whether it be in defect or excess. 
Therefore if men, in their love to God, do not come up half way to that height 
which duty requires, then they have more corruption in their hearts than grace ; 
because there is more goodness wanting, than is there: and all that is wanting 
is sin : it is an abominable defect ; and appears so to the saints ; especially those 
that are eminent ; it appears exceeding abominable to them, that Christ should 
be loved so little, and thanked so little for his dying love : it is in their eyes 
hateful ingratitude. 

And then the increase of grace has a tendency another way, to cause the 
saints to think their deformity vastly more than their goodness : it not only tends 
to convince them that their corruption is much greater than their goodness, which 
is indeed the case ; but it also tends to cause the deformity that there is in the 
least sin, or the least degree of corruption, to appear so great as vastly to out 
weigh all the beauty there is in their greatest holiness ; for this also is indeed 
the case. For the least sin against an infinite God, has an infinite hatehilness 
or deformity in it ; but the highest degree of holiness in a creature, has not an 
infinite loveliness in it : and therefore the loveliness of it is as nothing, in com 
parison of the deformity of the least sin. That every sin has infinite deformity and 
hatefulness in it it, is most demonstrably evident ; because what the evil, or ini 
quity, or hatefulness of sin consists in, is the violating of an obligation, or the being 
or doing contrary to what we should be or do, or are obliged to. And therefore 
by how much the greater the obligation is that is violated, so much the greater 
is .the iniquity and hatefulness of the violation. But certainly our obligation to 


love and honor any being is in some proportion to his loveliness and honorable- 
ness, or to his worthiness to be loved and honored by us; which is the same 
thing. We are surely under greater obligation to love a more lovely being, 
than a less lovely ; and if a Being be infinitely lovely or worthy to be loved by 
us, then our obligations to love him are infinitely great ; and therefore, what 
ever is contrary to this love, has in it infinite iniquity, deformity, and unworthi- 
ness. But on the other hand, with respect to our holiness or love to God, there 
is not an infinite worthiness in that. The sin of the creature against God, is ill 
deserving and hateful in proportion to the distance there is between God and 
the creature : the greatness of the object, and the meanness and inferiority of 
the subject, aggravates it. But it is the reverse with regard to the worthiness 
of the respect of the creature to God ; it is worthless, and not worthy, in pro 
portion to the meanness of the subject. So much the greater the distance between 
God and the creature, so much the less is the creature s respect worthy of God s 
notice or regard. The great degree of superiority increases the obligation on 
the inferior to regard the superior ; and so makes the want of regard more hate 
ful. But the great degree of inferiority diminishes the worth of the regard 
of the inferior ; because the more he is inferior, the less he is worthy of 
notice ; the less he is, the less is what he can offer worth ; for he can offer 
no more than himself, in offering his best respect ; and therefore as he is little, 
and little worth, so is his respect little worth. And the more a person has of 
true grace and spiritual light, the more will it appear thus to him ; the more 
will he appear to himself infinitely deformed by reason of sin, and the less will 
the goodness that is in his grace, or good experience, appear in proportion to it. 
For indeed it is nothing to it ; it is less than a drop to the ocean ; for finite bears 
no proportion at all to that which is infinite. But the more a person has of 
spiritual light, the more do things appear to him, in this respect, as they are 
indeed. Hence it most demonstrably appears, that true grace is of that nature, 
that the more a person has of it, with remaining corruption, the less does his 
goodness and holiness appear, in proportion to his deformity ; and not only to 
his past deformity, but to his present deformity, in the sin that now appeals in 
his heart, and the abominable defects of his highest and best affections, and 
brightest experiences. 

The nature of many high and religious affections, and great discoveries (as 
they are called) in many persons that I have been acquainted with, is to hide 
and cover over the corruption of their hearts, and to make it seem to them as if 
all their sin was gone, and to leave them without complaints of any hateful evil 
left in them (though it may be they cry out much of their past unw r orthiness) ; a 
sure and certain evidence that their discoveries (as they call them) are darkness 
and not light. It is darkness that hides men s pollution and deformity ; but 
light let into the heart discovers it, searches it out in its secret corners, and makes 
it plainly to appear j especially that penetrating, all searching light of God s 
holiness and glory. It is true, that saving discoveries may for the present hide 
corruption in one sense ; they restrain the positive exercises of it, such as malice, 
envy, covetousness, lasciviousness, murmuring, &c., but they bring corruption to 
light, in that w r hich is privative, viz., that there is no more love, no more humil 
ity, no more thankfulness. Which defects appear most hateful in the eyes of 
those who have the most eminent exercises of grace ; and are very burdensome, 
and cause the saints to cry out of their leanness, and odious pride and ingrati 
tude. And whatever positive exercises of corruption at any time arise, and 
mingle themselves with eminent actings of grace, grace will exceedingly mag 
nify the view of them, and render their appearance far more heinous and horrible 


The more eminent saints are, and the more they have of the light of heaven 
in their souls, the more do they appear to themselves, as the most eminent saints 
in this world do to the saints and angels in heaven. How can we rationally sup 
pose the most eminent saints on earth appear to them, if beheld any otherwise, 
than covered over with the righteousness of Christ, and their deformities swallow 
ed up and hid in the coruscation of the beams of his abundant glory and love 1 
How can we suppose our most ardent love and praises appear to them, that do 
behold the beauty and glory of God without a vail ? How does our highest 
thankfulness for the dying love of Christ appear to them, who see Christ as he 
is, who know as they are known, and see the glory of the person of him that 
died, and the wonders of his dying love, without any cloud of darkness 1 And 
how do they look on the deepest reverence and humility, with which worms of 
the dust on earth approach that infinite Majesty which they behold 1 Do they 
appear great to them, or so much as worthy of the name of reverence and hu 
mility, in those that they see to be at such an infinite distance from that great 
and holy God, in whose glorious presence they are ? The reason why the 
highest attainments of the saints on earth appear so mean to them, is because 
they dwell in the light of God s glory, and see God as he is. And it is in this 
respect with the saints on earth, as it is with the saints in heaven, in proportion 
as they are more eminent in grace. 

I would not be understood, that the saints on earth have in all respects the 
worst opinion of themselves, when they have most of the exercises of grace. In 
many respects it is otherwise. With respect to the positive exercises of cor 
ruption, they may appear to themselves freest and best when grace is most in 
exercise, and worst when the actings of grace are lowest. And when they com 
pare themselves with themselves at different times, they may know, when grace 
is in lively exercise, that it is better with them than it was before (though before, 
in the time of it, they did not see so much badness as they see now) and when 
afterwards they sink again in the frame of their minds, they may know that they 
sink, and have a new argument of their great remaining corruption, and a ra 
tional conviction of a greater vileness than they saw before ; and many have 
more of a sense of guilt, and a kind of legal sense of their sinfulness by far, than 
when in the lively exercise of grace. But yet it is true, and demonstrable from 
the forementionecl considerations, that the children of God never have so much 
of a sensible and spiritual conviction of their deformity, and so great, and quick, 
and abasing a sense of their present vileness and odiousness, as when they art 
highest in the exercise of true and pure grace ; and never are they so much dis 
posed to set themselves low among Christians as then. And thus he that is 
greatest in the kingdom, or most eminent in the church of Christ, is the same 
that humbles himself, as the least infant among them ; agreeable to that great 
saying of Christ, Matt, xviii. 4. 

A true saint may know that he has some true grace : and the more grace there 
is, the more easily is it known, as was observed and proved before. But yet it 
does not follow, that an eminent saint is easily sensible that he is an eminent saint, 
when compared with others. I will not deny that it is possible, that he that has 
much grace, and is an eminent saint, may know it. But he will not be apt to 
know ft ; it will not be a thing obvious to him : that he is better than others, 
and has higher experiences and attainments, is not a foremost thought ; nor is 
it that which, from time to time readily offers itself; it is a thing that is not in 
his way, but lies far out of sight ; he must take pains to convince himself of it ; 
there will be need of a great command of reason, and a high degree of strictness 
and care in arguing, to convince himself. And if he be rationally convinced by 


a very strict consideration of his own experiences, compared with the great ap 
pearances of low degrees of grace in some other saints, it will hardly seem real 
to him, that he has more grace than they ; and he will be apt to lose the convic 
tion that he has by pains obtained : nor will it seem at all natural to him to act 
upon that supposition. And this may be laid down as an infallible thing, " that 
Hie person who is apt to think that he, as compared with others, is a very emi 
nent saint, much distinguished in Christian experience, in whom this is a first 
thought, that rises of itself, and naturally offers itself; he is certainly mistaken; 
he is no eminent saint, but under the great prevailings of a proud and self-right 
eous spirit." And if this be habitual with the man, and is steadily the prevail 
ing temper of his mind, he is no saint at all ; he has not the least degree of any 
rue Christian experience ; so surely as the word of God is true. 

And that sort of experiences that appears to be of that tendency, and is found 
from time to time to have that effect, to elevate the subject of them with a great 
conceit of those experiences, is certainly vain and delusive. Those supposed 
discoveries that naturally blow up the person. with an admiration of the emi- 
nency of his discoveries, and fill him with conceit that now he has seen, and 
knows more than most other Christians, have nothing of the nature of true 
spiritual light in them. All true spiritual knowledge is of that nature, that the 
more a person has of it, the more is he sensible of his own ignorance ; as is 
evident by 1 Cor. viii. 2 : "He that thinketh he knoweth any thing, he know- 
eth nothing yet as he ought to know." Agur, when he had a great discovery 
of God, and sense of the wonderful height of his glory, and of his marvellous 
works, and cries out of his greatness and incomprehensibleness ; at the same 
time, had the deepest sense of his brutish ignorance, and looked upon himself 
the most ignorant of all the saints. Prov. xxx. 2, 3, 4 : " Surely I am more 
brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. I neither 
learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy. Who hath ascended up 
into heaven, or descended 1 Who hath gathered the wind in his fists ? Who 
hath bound the waters in a garment ? Who hath established all the ends of 
the earth ? What is his name, and what is his son s name, if thou canst tell ?" 

For a man to be highly conceited of his spiritual and divine knowledge, is 
for him to be wise in his own eyes, if any thing is. And therefore it comes 
under those prohibitions : Prov. iii. 7, " Be not wise in thine own eyes." Rom. 
xii. 16, " Be not wise in your own conceits ;" and brings men under that wo, 
Isa. v. 21 : " Wo unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in 
their own sight." Those that are thus wise in their own eyes, are some of the 
least likely to get good of any in the world. Experience shows the truth of 
that, Prov. xxvi. 12 : " Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit ? There is 
more hope of a fool than of him." 

To this some may object, that the Psalmist, when we must suppose that he 
v;as in a holy frame, speaks of his knowledge as eminently great, and far great 
er than that of other saints : Psal. cxix. 99, 100, " T have more understanding 
than all my teachers : for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand 
more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts." 

To this I answ r er two things : 

(1.) There is no restraint to be laid upon the Spirit of God, as to what he 
shall reveal to a prophet, for the benefit of his church, who is speaking or wri 
ting under immediate inspiration. The Spirit of God may reveal to such a one, and 
dictate to him, to declare to others secret things, that otherwise would be hard, yea 
impossible for him to find out. As he may reveal to him mysteries, that other 
wise would be above the reach of his reason ; or things in a distant place, that 


he cannot see ; or future events, that it would be impossible for him to know 
and declare, if they were not extraordinarily revealed to him ; so the Spirit of 
God might reveal to David this distinguishing benefit he had received, by con 
versing much with God s testimonies ; and use him as his instrument to record 
it for the benefit of others, to excite them to the like duty, and to use the same 
means to gain knowledge. Nothing can be gathered concerning the natural 
tendency of the ordinary gracious influences of the Spirit of God, from that, 
that David declares of his distinguishing knowledge under the extraordina 
ry influences of God s Spirit, immediately dictating to him the divine mind by 
inspiration, and using David as his instrument to write what he pleased for the 
benefit of his church ; any more than we can reasonably argue, that it is the 
natural tendency of grace to incline men to curse others, and wish the most 
dreadful misery to them that can be thought of, because David, under inspira 
tion, often curses others, and prays that such misery may come upon them. 

(2.) It is not certain that the knowledge David here speaks of, is spiritual 
knowledge, wherein holiness does fundamentally consist. But it may be that 
greater revelation which God made to him of the Messiah, and the things of 
his future kingdom, and the far more clear and extensive knowledge that he 
had of the mysteries and doctrines of the gospel, than others ; as a reward for 
his keeping God s testimonies. In this, it is apparent by the book of Psalms, 
that David far exceeded all that had gone before him. 

Secondly, Another thing that is an infallible sign of spiritual pride, is per 
sons being apt to think highly of their humility. False experiences are com 
monly attended with a counterfeit humility. And it is the very nature of ? 
counterfeit humility, to be highly conceited of itself. False religious affec 
tions have generally that tendency, especially when raised to a great height 
to make persons think that their humility is great, and accordingly to take- 
much notice of their great attainments in this respect, and admire them. Bm 
eminently gracious affections (I scruple not to say it) are evermore of a con 
trary tendency, and have universally a contrary effect in those that have them 
They indeed make them very sensible what reason there is that they should be 
deeply humbled, and cause them earnestly to thirst and long after it ; but they 
make their present humility, or that which they have already attained to, to 
appear small; and their remaining pride great, and exceedingly abomin 

The reason why a proud person should be apt to think his humility great, 
and why a very humble person should think his humility small, may be easily 
seen, if it be considered, that it is natural for persons, in judging of the degree 
of their own humiliation, to take their measure from that which they esteem 
their proper height, or the dignity wherein they properly stand. That may be 
great humiliation in one, that is no humiliation at all in another ; because the 
degree of honorableness, or considerableness wherein each does properly stand, 
is very different. For some great man, to stoop to loose the latchet of the 
shoes of another great man, his equal, or to wash his feet, would be taken no 
tice of as an act of abasement in him ; and he, being sensible of his own dig 
nity, would look upon it so himself. But if a poor slave is seen stooping to 
unloose the shoes of a great prince, nobody will take any notice of this, as any 
act of humiliation in him, or token of any great degree of humility : nor would 
the slave himself, unless he be horribly proud and ridiculously conceited of him 
self : and if after he had done it, he should, in his talk and behavior, show that 
he thought his abasement great in it, and had his mind much upon it, as an ev 
idence of his being very humble ; would not every body cry out upon him, 


Whom do you think yourself to foe, that you should think this that you have 
done such a deep humiliation ?" This would make it plain to a demonstration, 
that this slave was swollen with a high degree of pride and vanity of mind, as 
much as if he declared in plain terms, " 1 think myself to be some great one." 
And the matter is no less plain and certain, when worthless, vile, arid loath 
some worms of the dust, are apt to put such a construction on their acts of 
abasement before God ; and to think it a token of great humility in them that 
they, under their affections, can find themselves so willing to acknowledge 
themselves to be so mean and unworthy, and to behave themselves as those that 
are so inferior. The very reason why such outward acts, and such inward ex 
ercises, look like great abasement in such a one, is because he has a high con 
ceit of himself. Whereas if he thought of himself more justly, these things 
would appear nothing to him, and his humility in them worthy of no regard ; 
but would rather be astonished at his pride, that one so infinitely despicable and 
vile is brought no lower before God. When he says in his heart, "This is a 
great act of humiliation ; it is certainly a sign of great humility in me, that I 
should feel thus and do so ;" his meaning is, " This is great humility for me, 
for such a one as I, that am so considerable and worthy." He considers how 
low he is now brought, and compares this with the height of dignity on which 
he in his heart thinks he properly stands, and the distance appears very great, 
and he calls it all mere humility, and as such admires it. Whereas, in him that 
is truly humble, and really sees his own vileness, and loathsomeness before God, 
the distance appears the other way. When he is brought lowest of all, it does 
not appear to him, that he is brought below 7 his proper station, but that he is 
not come to it; he appears to himself yet vastly above it, he longs to get lower, 
that he may come to it, but appears at a great distance from it. And this dis 
tance he calls pride. And therefore his pride appears great to him, and not 
his humility. For although he is brought much lower than he used to be, yet 
it does not appear to him worthy of the name of humiliation, for him that is so 
infinitely mean and detestable, to come down to a place, which, though it be 
lower than what he used to assume, is yet vastly higher than what is proper 
for him. As men would hardly count it worthy of the name of humility, in a con 
temptible slave, that formerly affected to be a prince, to have his spirit so far 
brought down, as to take the place of a nobleman; when this is still so far 
above his proper station. 

All men in the world, in judging of the degree of their own and others 
humility, as appearing in any act of theirs, consider two things, viz., the real 
degree of dignity they stand in ; and the degree of abasement, and the relation 
it bears to that real dignity. Thus the complying with the same low place, or 
low act, may be an evidence of great humility in one, that evidences but little 
or no humility in another. But truly humble Christians have so mean an opin 
ion of their own real digaily, that all their self-abasement, when considered with 
relation to that, and compared to that, appears very small to them. It does not 
seem to them to be any great humility, or any abasement to be made much of, 
for such poor, vile, abject creatures as they, to lie at the foot of God. 

The degree of humility is to be judged of by the degree of abasement, and 
the degree of the cause for abasement : but he that is truly and eminently hum 
ble, never thinks his humility great, considering the cause. The cause why he 
should be abased appears so great, and the abasement of the frame of his heart 
so greatly short of it, that he takes much more notice of his pride than his hu 

Every one that has been conversant with souls under convictions of sin, 


knows that those who are greatly convinced of sin, are not apt to think them 
selves greatly convinced. And the reason is this : men judge of the degree of 
their own convictions of sin by two things jointly considered, viz., the degree of 
sense which they have of guilt and pollution, and the degree of cause they have 
for such a sense, in the degree of their real sinfulness. It is really no argu 
ment of any great conviction of sin, for some rnen to think themselves to be very 
sinful, beyond most others in the world ; because they are so indeed, very 
plainly and notoriously. And therefore a far less conviction of sin may incline 
such a one to think so than another ; he must be very blind indeed not to be 
sensible of it. But he that is truly under great convictions of sin, naturally 
thinks this to be his case. It appears to him, that the cause he has to be sensi 
ble of guilt and pollution, is greater than others have ; and therefore lie ascribes 
his sensibleness of this to the greatness of his sin, and not to the greatness of 
his sensibility. It is natural for one under great convictions, to think himself 
one of the greatest of sinners in reality, and also that it is so very plainly and evi 
dently ; for the greater his convictions are, the more plain and evident it seems 
to be to him. And therefore it necessarily seems to him so plain and so easy 
to him to see it, that it may be seen without much conviction. That man is 
under great convictions, whose conviction is great in proportion to his sin. But 
no man that is truly under great convictions, thinks his conviction great in pro 
portion to his sin. For if he does, it is a certain sign that he inwardly thinks 
his sins small. And if that be the case, that is a certain evidence that his con 
viction is small. And this, by the way, is the main reason that persons, when 
under a work of humiliation, are not sensible of it in the time of it. 

And as it is with conviction of sin, just so it is, by parity of reason, with re 
spect to persons conviction or sensibleness of their own meanness and vileness, theii 
own blindness, their own impotence, and all that low sense that a Christian has of 
himself, in the exercise of evangelical humiliation. So that in a high degree of 
this, the saints are never disposed to think their sensibleness of their own mean 
ness, filthliness, impotence, &c., to be great ; because it never appears great to 
them considering the cause. 

An eminent saint is not apt to think himself eminent in any thing ; all his 
graces and experiences are ready to appear to him to be comparatively small ; 
but especially his humility. There is nothing that appertains to Christian ex 
perience, and true piety, that is so much out of his sight as his humility. He is 
^ thousand times more quicksighted to discern his pride than his humility : that 
he easily discerns, and is apt to take much notice of, but hardly discerns his hu 
mility. On the contrary, the deluded hypocrite, that is under the power of 
spiritual pride, is so blind to nothing as his pride ; and so quicksighted to no 
thing, as the shows of humility that are in him. 

The humble Christian is more apt to find fault with his own pride than with 
other men s. He is apt to put the best construction on others words and be 
havior, and to think that none are so proud as himself. But the proud hypo 
crite is quick to discern the mote in his brother s eye, in this respect ; while he 
sees nothing of the beam in his own. He is very often much in crying out of 
others pride, finding fault with others apparel, and way of living ; and is af 
fected ten times as much with his neighbor s ring or ribband, as with all the 
filthiness of his own heart. 

From the disposition there is in hypocrites to think highly of their humility, 
it comes to pass that counterfeit humility is forward to put itself forth to view. 
Those that have it, are apt to be much in speaking of their humiliations, and to 
set them forth in high terms, and to make a great outward show of humility in 


affected looks, gestures, or manner of speech, or meanness of apparel, or some 
affected singularity. So it was of old with the false prophets, Zech. xiii. 4 ; 
so it was with the hypocritical Jews, Isa. Ivii. 5, and so Christ tells us it was 
with the Pharisees, Matt. vi. 16. But it is contrariwise with true humility ; 
they that have it, are not apt to display their eloquence in setting it forth, or to 
speak of the degree of their abasement in strong terms.* It does not affect to 
show itself in any singular outward meanness of apparel, or way of living ; 
agreeable to what is implied in Matt. vi. 17, " But thou, when thou fastest, 
anoint thine head and wash thy face. Col. ii. 23. Which things have indeed 
a show of wisdom in will worship and humility, and neglecting of the body." 
Nor is true humility a noisy thing ; it is not loud and boisterous. The Scrip 
ture represents it as of a contrary nature. Ahab, when he had a visible hu 
mility, a resemblance of true humility, went softly, 1 Kings xxi. 27. A peni 
tent, in the exercise of true humiliation, is represented as still and silent, Lam.iii. 
28 : " He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him." 
And silence is mentioned as what attends humility, Prov. xxx. 32 : " If thou 
hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine 
hand upon thy mouth." 

Thus I have particularly and largely shown the nature of that true humility 
that attends holy affections, as it appears in its tendency to cause persons to 
think meanly of their attainments in religion, as compared with the attainments 
of others, and particularly of their attainments in humility : and have shown 
the contrary tendency of spiritual pride, to dispose persons to think their attain 
ments in these respects to be great. I have insisted the longer on this, because 
I look upon it as a matter of great importance, as it affords a certain distinction 
between true and counterfeit humility ; and also as this disposition of hypocrites 
to look on themselves better than others, is what God has declared to be very 
hateful to him, " a smoke in his nose, arid a fire that burneth all the day," Tsa. 
Ixv. 5. It is mentioned as an instance of the pride of the inhabitants of that 
oly city (as it was called) Jerusalem, that they esteemed themselves far better 
Jian the people oi Sodom, and so looked upon them worthy to be overlooked 
and disregarded by them : Ezek. xvi. 56, " For thy sister Sodom was not men 
tioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride." 

Let not the reader lightly pass over these things in application to himself. 
If you once have taken it in, that it is a bad sign for a person to be apt to think 
himself a better saint than others, there will arise a blinding prejudice in your 
own favor; and there will probably be need of a great strictness of self-exami 
nation, in order to determine whether it be so with you. If on the proposal of 
the question, you answer, " No, it seems to me, none are so bad as I," do not 
let the matter pass off so ; but examine again, whether or no you do not think 
yourself better than others on this very account, because you imagine you think 

* * 1 7 jl l Vj/lAl 

ceit do not rise up under this cover ; whether on this very account, that you 

think yourself as proud as the devil, you do not think yourself to be very humble. 

From this opposition that there is between the nature of a true, and of a 

* It is an observation of Mr. Jones, in his excellent treatise of the canon of the New Testament, that 
the evangelist Mnrk, who was the companion of St. Peter, and is supposed to have written his gospel 
under the direction of that apostle, when he mentions Peter s repentance after his denying his Master, 

that apostl( 

^.-^^v *,.s~ ngtermsto^ _ __ 

he thought thereon, he wept," Mark xiv. 72 ; whereas the other evangelists say thus, "he went out and 
wei,t bitterly," Matt. xxvi. 75, Luke xxii. 62. 

VOL. III. 20 

does not use such strong terms to set it forth as the other evangelists ; he only uses these words, " When 
longht thereon, he wept," Mark xiv. 72 ; whereas the other evangelists say thus, "he went oi 


counterfeit humility, as to the esteem that the subjects of them have of them 
selves, arises a manifold contrariety of temper and behavior. 

A truly humble person, having such a mean opinion of his righteousness and 
holiness, is poor in spirit. For a person to be poor in spirit, is to be in his own 
sense and apprehension poor, as to what is in him, and to be of an answerable 
disposition. Therefore a truly humble person, especially one eminently humble, 
naturally behaves himself in many respects as a poor man. " The poor useth 
entreaties, but the rich answereth roughly." A poor man is not disposed to 
quick and high resentment when he is among the rich : he is apt to yield to 
others, for he knows others are above him ; he is not stiff and self-willed ; he is 
patient with hard fare ; he expects no other than to be despised, and takes it 
patiently ; he does not take it heinously that he is overlooked and but little re 
garded ; he is prepared to be in a low place ; he readily honors his superiors ; 
he takes reproofs quietly ; he readily honors others as above him ; he easily 
yields to be taught, and does not claim much to his understanding and judgment ; 
he is not over nice or humorsome, and has his spirit subdued to hard things ; 
he is not assuming, nor apt to take much upon him, but it is natural for him to 
be subject to others. Thus it is with the humble Christian. Humility is (as the 
great Mastricht expresses it) a kind of holy pusillanimity. 

A man that is very poor is a beggar ; so is he that is poor in spirit. There 
is a great difference between those affections that are gracious, and those that 
are false : under the former, the person continues still a poor beggar at God s 
gates, exceeding empty and needy ; but the latter make men appear to them 
selves rich, and increased with goods, and not very necessitous ; they have a 
great stock in their own imagination for their subsistence.* 

A poor man is modest in his speech and behavior ; so, and much more, and 
more certainly and universally, is one that is poor in spirit ; he is humble and 
modest in his behavior amongst men. It is in vain for any to pretend that they 
are humble, and as little children before God, when they are haughty, assuming, 
and impudent in their behavior amongst men. The apostle informs us, that the 
design of the gospel is to cut off all glorying, not only before God, but also be 
fore men, Rom. iv. 1, 2. Some pretend to great humiliation, that are very 
haughty, audacious, and assuming in their external appearance and behavior : 
but they ought to consider those Scriptures, Psal. cxxxi. 1, "Lord, my heart is 
not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty ; neither do I exercise myself in great matteis, 
or in things too high for me." Prov. vi. 16, 17, " These six things doth the 
Lord hate ; yea seven are an abomination unto him.: a proud look, &c." 
Chap. xxi. 4, " A high look, and a proud heart are sin." Psal. xviii. 27, 
"Thou wilt bring down high looks." And Psal. ci. 5, " Him that hath a 
high look, and a proud heart, I will not suffer." I Cor. xiii. 4. " Charity vaunt- 
eth not itself, doth not behave itself unseemly." There is a certain amiable 
modesty and fear that belongs to a Christian behavior among men, arising from 

* " This spirit ever keeps a man poor and vile in his own eyes, and empty. When the man hath got 
some knowledge, and can discourse pretty well, and hath some taste of the heavenly gift, some sweet 
illapses of grace, and so his conscience is pretty well quieted: and if he hath got some answer to his 
prayers, and hath sweet affections, he grows full : and having ease to his conscience, casts off sense, and 
daily gr nming under sin. And hence ihe spirit of prayer dies : he loses his esteem of God s ordinances, 
fo-ls not such need of them ; or gets no good, feels no life or power by them. This is the woful condi 
tion of some ; but yet they know it not. But now he that is filled with the Spirit the Lord empties him ; 
and ihe more, the longer he lives. So that though others think he needs not much grace, yet he accounts 
himself the poorest " Shepard 1 * Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part If. p. 132. 

" After all fillings, be ever empty, hungry, and feeling need, and praying for more." Ibid. p. 151. 

" Truly, brethren, when I see the curse of God upon many Christians, that are now grown full of their 
parts, gifts, peace, comforts, abilities, duties, I stand adoring the riches of the Lord s mercy, to a little 
handful of poor believers, not only in making them empty, but in keeping them so all their days." Shep. 
ard s Sound Believer, the late edition in Boston, p. 158, 159. 


humility, ihai the Scripture often speaks of, 1 Pet. iii. 15, " Be ready to give 
an answer to every man that asketh you with meekness and fear." Romans 
xiii. 7, " Fear to whom fear." 2 Cor. vii. 15, " Whilst he remembereth the 
obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him." Eph. vi. 

they behold your 

coupled with fear." 1 Tim. ii. 9, " That women adorn themselves in modest 
apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety." In this respect a Christian is like a 
little child ; a little child is modest before men, and his heart is apt to be pos 
sessed with fear and awe amongst them. 

The same spirit will dispose a Christian to honor all men : 1 Pet. ii. 17, 
" Honor all men." A humble Christian is not only disposed to honor the saints 
in his behavior ; but others also, in all those ways that do not imply a visible ap 
probation of their sins. Thus Abraham, the great pattern of believers, honored 
the children of Heth :" Gen. xxiii. 7, " Abraham stood up, and bowed himself 
to the people of the land." This was a remarkable instance of a humble beha 
vior towards them that were out of Christ, and that Abraham knew to be ac 
cursed : and therefore would by no means suffer his servant to take a wife to 
his son, from among them ; and Esau s wives, being of these children of Heth, 
were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah. So Paul honored Festus : Acts 
xxvi. 25, I am not mad, most noble Festus." Not only will Christian hu 
mility dispose persons to honor those wicked men that are out of the visible church, 
but also false brethren and persecutors. As Jacob, when he was in an excel 
lent frame, having just been wrestling all night with God, and received the bless 
ing, honored Esau, his false and persecuting brother : Gen. xxxiii. 3, " Jacob 
bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near. to his brother 
Esau." So he called m m lord ; and commanded all his family to honor him in 
like manner. 

Thus I have endeavored to describe the heart and behavior of one that is 
governed by a truly gracious humility, as exactly agreeable to the Scriptures 
as I am able. 

Now, it is out of such a heart as this, that all truly holy affections do flow. 
Christian affections are like Mary s precious ointment that she poured on Christ s 
head, that filled the whole house with a sweet odor. That was poured out of an 
alabaster box ; so gracious affections flow out to Christ out of a pure heart. That 
was poured out of a broken box ; until the box was broken, the ointment could not 
flow, nor diffuse its odor ; so gracious affections flow out of a broken heart. Gra 
cious affections are also like those of Mary Magdalene (Luke vii. at the latter 
end), who also pours precious ointment on Christ, out of an alabaster broken 
box, anointing therewith the feet of Jesus, when she had washed them with her 
tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head. All gracious affections that 
are a sweet odor to Christ, and that fill the soul of a Christian with a heavenly 
sweetness and fragrancy, are broken hearted affections. A truly Christian love, 
either to God or men, is a humble broken hearted love. The desires of the saints, 
however earnest, are humble desires. Their hope is a humble hope ; and their 
joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is a humble broken hearted 
joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, 
and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behavior. 

VII. Another thing, wherein gracious affections are distinguished from oth 
ers, is, that they are attended with a change of nature. 

All gracious affections do arise from a spiritual understanding, in which the 


soul has the excellency and glory of divine things discovered to it, as was 
shown before. But all spiritual discoveries are transforming; and not only make 
an alteration of the present exercise, sensation, and frame of the soul \ but such 
power and efficacy have they, that they make an alteration in the very nature oi 
the soul : 2 Cor. iii. 18, " But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass 
t he glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even 
as by the Spirit of the Lord." Such power as this is properly divine power, 
and is peculiar to the Spirit of the Lord : other power may make an alteration 
in men s present frames and feelings : but it is the power of a Creator only that 
can change the nature, or give a new nature. And no discoveries or illuminations, 
but those that are divine and supernatural, will have this supernatural effect. 
But this effect all those discoveries have, that are truly divine. The soul is 
deeply affected by these discoveries, and so affected as to be transformed. 

Thus it is with those affections that the soul is the subject of in its conversion. 
The Scripture representations of conversion do strongly imply and signify a change 
of nature : such as " being born again ; becoming new creatures ; rising from 
the dead ; being renewed in the spirit of the mind ; dying to sin, and living to 
righteousness ; putting off the old man, and putting on the new man ; a being in 
grafted into a new stock ; a having a divine seed implanted in the heart ; a being 
made partakers of the divine nature," &c. 

Therefore if there be no great and remarkable abiding change in persons, 
that think they have experienced a work of conversion, vain are all their 
imaginations and pretences, however they have been affected.* Conversion is 
a great and universal change of the man, turning him from sin to God. A 
man may be restrained from sin, before he is converted ; but when he is con 
verted, he is not only restrained from sin, his very heart and nature is turned 
from it unto holiness : so that thenceforward he becomes a holy person, and an 
enemy to sin. If, therefore, after a person s high affections at his supposed 
first conversion, it comes to that in a little time, that there is no very sensible, 
or remarkable alteration in him, as to those bad qualities, and evil habits, which 
before were visible in him, and he is ordinarily under the prevalence of the same 
kind of dispositions that he used to be, and the same thing seems to belong to 
his character ; he appears as selfish, carnal, as stupid, and perverse, as unchris 
tian and unsavory as ever ; it is greater evidence against him, than the bright 
est story of experiences that ever was told, is for him. For in Christ Jesus 
neither circumcision, nor uncircumcision, neither high profession, nor low pro 
fession, neither a fair story, nor a broken one, avails any thing ; but a new 

If there be a very great alteration visible in a person for a while ; if it be 
not abiding, but he afterwards returns, in a stated manner, to be much as he 
used to be ; it appears to be no change of nature ; for nature is an abiding 
thing. A swine that is of a filthy nature may be washed, but the swinish na 
ture remains ; and a dove that is of a cleanly nature may be defiled, but its 
cleanly nature remains.f 

Indeed allowances must be made for the natural temper ; conversion does 

* " I would not judge of the whole soul s coming to Christ, so much by sudden pangs as by inward 
bent. Foi the whole soul, in affectionate expressions and actions, may be carried to Christ ; but being 
without this bent, and change of affections, is unsound." SheparcTs Parable, Part. I. p. 203. 

t " It is with the soul, as with water; all the cold may be gone, but the native principle of cold re 
mains still. You may remove the burning of lusts, not the blackness of nature. Where the power of 
sin lies, change of conscience from security to terror, change of life from profaneness to civility, and 
fashions of the world, to escape the pollutions thereof, change of lusts, may quench them for a time : 
but the nature is never changed in the best hypocrite that ever was." Shepard s Parable, Part 1. p. 194. 


not entirely rout cui, the natural temper ; those sins which a man by his natural 
constitution \V A S moot inclined to before his conversion, he may be most apt to 
fall mto siili. But yei conversion will make a great alteration even with re 
spect to these sins. 1 iiougi; grace, while imperfect, does not root out an evil 
natural temper, yet it is of grtat power and efficacy with respect 10 it, to cor 
rect it. The chancre that is Wiouglrt in conversion, is a universal change; 
grace changes a man witn respect ;o -whatever is sinful in him ; the old man is 
put off, and the new man put on ; no , s sanctified throughout ; and the man be 
comes a new creature, old things are puSbed away, and all things are becon.e 
new ; all sin is mortified, constitution sitis, as well as others. If a man before 
his conversion, was by his natural constitution especially inclined to lascivious- 
ness, or drunkenness, or maliciousness ; concerting grace will make a great 
alteration in him, with respect to these evil dispositions ; so that however ht 
may be still most in danger of these sins, yet they shall no longer have domin 
ion over him ; nor will they any more be properly his character. Yea, truo 
repentance does in some respects, especially turn a man against his own iniquity, 
that wherein he has been most guilty, and has chiefly dishonored God. He 
that forsakes other sins, but saves his leading sin, the iniquity he is chiefly in 
clined to, is like Saul, when sent against God s enemies the Amalekites, with 
a strict charge to save none of them alive, but utterly to destroy them, small 
and great ; who utterly destroyed inferior people, but saved the king, the chiejf 
of them all, alive. 

Some foolishly make it an argument in favor of their discoveries and affec 
tions, that when they are gone, they are left wholly without any life or sense, 
or any thing beyond what they had before. They think it an evidence that what 
they experienced was wholly of God, and not of themselves, because (say they) 
when God is departed, all is gone ; they can see and feel nothing, and are no 
better than they used to be. 

It is very true, that all grace and goodness in the hearts of the saints is en 
tirely from God ; and they are universally and immediately dependent on him 
for it. But yet these persons are mistaken, as to the manner of God s communi 
cating himself and his Holy Spirit, in imparting saving grace to the soul. He 
gives his Spirit to be united to the faculties of the soul, and to dwell there after 
the manner of a principle of nature ; so that the soul, in being endued with 
grace, is endued with a new nature : but nature is an abiding thing. All the 
exercises of grace are entirely from Christ : but those exercises are not from Christ, 
as something that is alive, moves and stirs, something that is without life, and re 
mains without life ; but as having life communicated to it ; so as, through Christ s 
power, to have inherent in itself a vital nature. In the soul where Christ sav 
ingly is, there-he lives. He does not only live without it, so as violently to 
actuate it, but he lives in it, so that that also is alive. Grace in the soul is as 
much from Christ, as the light in a glass, held out in the sunbeams, is from the 
sun. But this represents the manner of the communication of grace to the soul, 
but in part ; because the glass remains as it was, the nature of it not being at all 
changed, it is as much without any lightsomeness in its nature as ever. But 
the soul of a saint receives light from "the Sun of righteousness, in such a man 
ner, that its nature is changed, and it becomes properly a luminous thing ; not 
only does the sun shine in the saints, but they also become little suns, partaking 
of the nature of the fountain of their light. In this respect, the manner of their 
derivation of light, is like that of the lamps in the tabernacle, rather than that 
of a reflecting glass ; which, though they were lit up by fire from heaven, yet 
thereby became themselves burning shining things. The saints do not onl\ 


drink of the water of life, that flows from the original fountain ; out this water 
becomes a fountain of water in them, springing up there, and flowing out of 
them, John iv. 14, and chap. vii. 38, 39. Grace is compared to a seed implant 
ed, that not only is in the ground, but has hold of it, has root there, and grows 
there, and is an abiding principle of life and nature there. 

As it is with spiritual discoveries and affections given at first conversion, so 
it is in all illuminations and affections of that kind, that persons are the subjects 
of afterwards ; they are all transforming. There is a like divine power and en 
ergy in them, as in the first discoveries ; and they still reach the bottom of the 
heart, and affect and alter the very nature of the soul, in proportion to the degree 
in which they are given. And a transformation of nature is continued and car 
ried on by them, to the end of life, until it is brought to perfection in glory. 
Hence the progress of the work of grace in the hearts of the saints, is represent 
ed in Scripture, as a continued conversion and renovation of nature. So the 
apostle exhorts those that were at Rome, " beloved of God, called to be saints," 
and that were subjects of God s redeeming mercies, " to be transformed by the 
renewing of their rnind :" Rom. xii. 1, 2, " I beseech you therefore, by the mer 
cies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice ; and be not conformed 
to this world ; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind ;" compared 
with chap. i. 7. So the apostle, writing to the " saints and faithful in Christ 
Jesus," that were at Ephesus (Eph. i. 1), and those who were once dead in 
trespasses and sins, but were now quickened and raised up, and made to sit to 
gether in heavenly places in Christ, and created in Christ Jesus unto good works, 
that were once far off, but were now made nigh by the blood of Christ, and 
that were no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, 
and of the household of God, and that were built together for a habitation of 
God through the Spirit ; I say, the apostle writing to these, tells them, "that 
he ceased not to pray for them, that God would give them the spirit of wisdom 
and revelation, in the knowledge of Christ ; the eyes of their understanding be 
ing enlightened, that they might know, or experience, what was the exceeding 
greatness of God s power towards them that believe, according to the working 
of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the 
dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places," Eph. i. 16, to 
the end. In this the apostle has respect to the glorious power and work of God 
in converting and renewing the soul ; as is most plain by the sequel. So the 
apostle exhorts the same persons " to put off the old man, which is corrupt accord 
ing to the deceitful lusts ; and be renewed in the spirit of their minds ; and to 
put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holi 
ness," Eph. iv. 22, 23, 24. 

There is a sort of high affections that some have from time to time, that 
leave them without any manner of appearance of an abiding effect. They go 
off suddenly ; so that from the very height of their emotion, and seeming rap 
ture, they pass at once to be quite dead, and void of all sense and activity. It 
surely is not wont to be thus with high gracious affections ;* they leave a sweet 
savor and a relish of divine things on the heart, and a stronger bent of soul tor 
wards God and holiness. As Moses face not only shone while he was in the 
mount, extraordinarily conversing with God, but it continued to shine after he 
came down from the mount. When men have been conversing with Christ in 
an extraordinary manner, there is a sensible effect of it remaining upon them ; 
there is something remarkable in their disposition and frame, which if we take 

* " Do you think the Holy Ghost comes on a man as on Balaam, by immediate acting, and then leaves 
him, and then he has nothing?" Shepard s Parable, Part I. p. 126. 


Knowledge of, and trace to its cause, we shall find it is because they have been 
with Jesus, Acts iv. 13. 

VIII. Truly gracious affections differ from those affections that are false and 
delusive, in that they tend to, and are attended with the lamblike, dovelike spiri 
and temper of Jesus Christ ; or in other words, they naturally beget and promote 
such a spirit of love, meekness, quietness, forgiveness and mercy, as appears in 

The evidence of this in the Scripture is very abundant. If we judge of the 
nature of Christianity, and the proper spirit of the gospel, by the word of God, 
this spirit is what may, by way of eminency, be called the Christian spirit ; and 
may be looked upon as the true, and distinguishing disposition of the hearts of 
Christians, as Christians. When some of the disciples of Christ said something, 
through inconsideration and infirmity, that was not agreeable to such a spirit, 
Christ told them, that they knew not what manner of spirit they were of, Luke 
ix. 55, implying that this spirit that I am speaking of, is the proper spirit of his 
religion and kingdom. All that are truly godly, and real disciples of Christ, 
have this spirit in them ; and not only so, but they are of this spirit ; it is the 
spirit by which they are so possessed and governed, that it is their true and 
proper character. This is evident by what the wise man says, Prov. xvii. 27 
(having respect plainly to such a spirit as this) : " A man of understanding is of 
an excellent spirit." And by the particular description Christ gives of the 
qualities arid temper of such as are truly blessed, that shall obtain mercy, and 
are God s children and heirs : Matt. v. 5, 7, 9, " Blessed are the meek : for they 
shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful : for they shall obtain mercy. 
Blessed are the peacemakers : for they shall be called the children of God." 
And that this spirit is the special character of the elect of God, is manifested by 
Col. iii. 12, 13 : " Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels 
of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering ; forbearing 
one another, and forgiving one another." And the apostle, speaking of that 
temper and disposition, which he speaks of as the most excellent and essential 
thing in Christianity, and that without which none are true Christians, and the 
most glorious profession and gifts are nothing (calling this spirit by the name of 
charity), he describes it thus, 1 Cor. xjii. 4, 5 : " Charity suffereth long, and is 
kind ; charity envieth not ; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not 
behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no 
evil." And the same apostle, Gal. v, designedly declaring the distinguishing marks 
and fruits of true Christian grace, chiefly insists on the things that appertain to 
such a temper and spirit as I am speaking of, ver. 22, 23 : " The fruit of the 
Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, tem 
perance." And so does the Apostle James, in describing true grace, or that wis 
dom that is from above, with that declared design, that others who are of a contrary 
spirit may not deceive themselves, and lie against the truth, in professing to be 
Christians, when they are not, James iii. 14 17 : " If ye have bitter envying 
and strife in your hearts, glory not ; and lie not against the truth. This wisdom 
descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying 
and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work. But the wisdom that is 
from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full 
of mercy and good fruits." 

Every thing that appertains to holiness of heart, does indeed belong to the 
nature of true Christianity, and the charactei of Christians; but a spirit of holi 
ness as appearing in some particular graces, may more especially be called 
the Christian spirit or temper. There are some amiable qualities and virtues, 


that do more especially agree with the nature of the gospel constitution, and 
Christian profession ; because there is a special agreeableness in thorn, with 
those divine attributes which God has more remarkably manifested and glorified 
in the work of redemption by Jesus Christ, that is the grand subject of the Chris 
tian revelation ; and also a special agreeableness with those virtues that were so 
wonderfully exercised by Jesus Christ towards us in that affair, and the blessed 
example he hath therein set us ; and likewise because they are peculiarly 
agreeable to the special drift and design of the work of redemption, and the 
benefits we thereby receive, and the relation that it brings us into, to God and 
one another. And these virtues are such as humility, meekness, love, forgive 
ness, and mercy. These things therefore especially belong to the character of 
Christians, as such. 

These things are spoken of as what are especially the character of Jesus 
Christ himself, the great head of the Christian church. They are so spoken of 
in the prophecies of the Old Testament ; as in that cited Matt. xxi. 5 : " Tell 
ye the daughter of Sion, Behokl, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting 
upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass." So Christ himself speaks of them, 
Matt. xi. 29 : " Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." The same 
appears by the name by which Christ is so often called in Scripture, viz., the 
Lamb. And as these things are especially the character of Christ, so they are 
also especially the character of Christians. Christians are Christlike ; none de 
serve the name of Christians, that are not so in their prevailing character. 
" The new man is renewed, after the image of him that created him," Col. iii. 
10. All true Christians behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and are 
changed into the same image, by his Spirit, 2 Cor. iii. 18. The elect are all 
predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son of God, that he might be 
the first born among many brethren, Rom. viii. 29. As we have borne the 
image of the first man, that is earthly, so we must also bear the image of the 
heavenly ; for as is the earthly, such are they also that are earthly ; and as is 
the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly, 1 Cor. xv. 47, 48, 49. 
Christ is full of grace ; and Christians all receive of his fulness, and grace for 
grace ; i. e., there is grace in Christians answering to grace in Christ, such an 
answerableness as there is between the wax and the seal ; there is character 
for character : such kind of graces, such a spirit and temper, the same things 
that belong to Christ s character, belong to theirs. That disposition, wherein 
Christ s character does in a special manner consist, therein does his image in a 
special manner consist. Christians that shine by reflecting the light of the Sun 
of righteousness, do shine with the same sort of brightness, the same mild, sweet, 
and pleasant beams. These lamps of the spiritual temple, that are enkindled 
by fire from heaven, burn with the same sort of flame. The branch is of the 
same nature with the stock and root, has the same sap, and bears the same sort 
of fruit. The members have the same kind of life with the head. It would be 
strange if Christians should not be of the same temper and spirit that Christ is 
of ; when they are his flesh and his bone, yea, are one spirit, 1 Cor. vi. 17 ; 
and live so, that it is not they that live, but Christ that lives in them. A Chris 
tian spirit is Christ s mark that he sets upon the souls of his people ; his seal in 
their foreheads, bearing his image and superscription. Christians are the fol 
lowers of Christ ; and they are so, as they are obedient to that call of Christ, 
Matt. xi. 28, 29, " Come unto me and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly 
in heart." They follow him as the Lamb : Rev. xiv. 4, " These are they 
which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." True Christians are as it 
were clothed with the meek, quiet, and loving temper of Christ ; for as many as 


are in Christ, have put on Christ. And in this respect the church is clothed 
with the sun, not only by being clothed with his imputed righteousness, but also 
by being adorned with his graces, Rom. xiii. 14. Christ, the great Shepherd, is 
himself a Lamb, and believers are also lambs; all the flock are lambs : John 
xxi. 15, " Feed my lambs." Luke x. 3, " 1 send you forth as lambs in the 
midst of wolves." The redemption of the church by Christ from the power of 
the devil, was typified of old, by David s delivering the lamb out of the mouth 
of the lion and the bear. 

That ?uch manner of virtue as has been spoken of, is the very nature of the 
Christian spirit, or the spirit that worketh in Christ, and in his members, and in 
the distinguishing nature of it, is evident by this, that the dove is the very sym 
bol or emblem, chosen of God, to represent it. Those things are fittest ein- 
blenv of other things, which do best represent that which is most distinguishing 
in tr-rir nature. The Spirit that descended on Christ, when he was anointed of 
the Father, descended on him like a dove. The dove is a noted emblem of 
meekness, harmlessness, peace and love. But the same Spirit that descended 
on the head of the church, descends to the members. " God hath sent forth the 
Spirit of his Son into their hearts," Gal. iv. 6. And " if any man have not the 
Spirit of Christ, he is none of his," Rom. viii. 9. There is but one Spirit to the 
whole mystical l^ody, head and members, 1 Cor. vi. 17, Eph. iv. 4. Christ 
breathes his own Spirit on his disciples, John xx. 22. As Christ was anointed 
with the Holy Ghost, descending on him like a dove, so Christians also " have 
an anointing from the Holy One," 1 John ii. 20, 27. And they are anointed 
with the same oil ; it is the same " precious ointment on the head, that goes 
down to the skirts of the garments." And on both, it is a spirit of peace and 
love. Psalm cxxxiii. 1, 2, " Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for 
brethren to dwell together in unity ! It is like the precious ointment upon the 
head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron s beard, that went down to the 
skirts of his garments." The oil on Aaron s garments had the same sweet and 
inimitable odor with that on his head ; the smell of the same sweet spices, 
Christian affections, and a Christian behavior, is but the flowing out of the savor 
of Christ s sweet ointments. Because the church has a dovelike temper and 
disposition, therefore it is said of her that she has doves eyes, Cant. i. 15 : " Be 
hold, thou art fair, my love, behold, thou art fair, thou hast doves eyes." And 
chap. iv. 1, " Behold, thou art fair, my love, behold, thou art fair, thou hast 
doves eyes within thy locks." The same that is said of Christ, chap. vi. 12 : 
" His eyes are as the eyes of doves." And the church is frequently compared 
to a dove in Scripture : Cant. ii. 14, " 0, my dove, that art in the clefts of the 
rock." Chap. v. 2, " Open to me, my love, my dove." And chap. vi. 9, 
" My dove, my undefiled is but one." Psal. Ixviii. 13, " Ye shall be as the 
wings of a dove, covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold." And 
Ixxiv. 19, "0 deliver not the soul of thy turtle dove unto the multitude of the 
wicked." The dove that Noah sent out of the ark, that could find no rest for 
the sole of her foot, until she returned, was a type of a true saint. 

Meekness is so much the character of the saints, that the meek and the 
godly, are used as synonymous terms in Scripture : so Psalm xxxvii. 10, 11, 
the wicked and the meek are set in opposition one to another, as wicked and 
godly : " Yet a little while and the wicked shall not be ; but the meek shall 
inherit the earth." So Psal. cxlvii. 6, " The Lord lifteth up the meek : he 
casteth the wicked down to the ground." 

It is doubtless very much on this account, that Christ represents all his dis 
ciples, all the heirs of heaven, as little children : Matt. xix. 14, " Suffer little 



children to come unto me, and forbid them not ; for of such is the kingdom of 
heaven." Matt. x. 42, " Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little 
ones, a cup of cold water, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he 
shall in no wise lose his reward." Matt, xviii. 6, " Whoso shall offend one of 
these little ones, &c." Ver. 10, " Take heed that ye despise not one of these 
little ones." Ver. 14, " It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that 
one of these little ones should perish." John xiii. 33, " Little children, yet a 
little while I am with you." Little children are innocent and harmless ; they 
do not do a great deal of mischief in the world ; men need not be afraid of 
them ; they are no dangerous sort of persons ; their anger does not kj,t long, 
they do not lay up injuries in high resentment, entertaining deep an i rooted 
malice. So Christians, in malice, are children, 1 Cor. xiv. 20. Little children 
are not guileful and deceitful, but plain and simple ; they are not verged in the 
arts of fiction and deceit ; and are strangers to artful disguises. They are yield- 
able and flexible, and not wilful and obstinate ; do not trust to their own under 
standing, but rely on the instructions of parents, and others of superior under 
standing. Here is therefore a fit and lively emblem of the followers of the 
Lamb. Persons being thus like little children, is not only a thing highly com 
mendable, and what Christians approve and aim at, and which some extraordi 
nary proficiency do attain to : but it is their universal character, and absolutely 
necessary in order to entering into the kingdom of heaven : Matt xviii. 3, 
" Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, 
ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Mark x. 15, " Verily I say 
unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he 
shall not enter therein." 

But here some may be ready to say, Is there no such thing as Christian for 
titude, and boldness for Christ, being good soldiers in the Christian warfare, and 
coming out boldly against the enemies of Christ and his people ? 

To which I answer, There doubtless is such a thing. The whole Christian 
life is compared to a warfare, and fitly so. And the most eminent Christians 
are the best soldiers, endued with the greatest degrees of Christian fortitude. 
And it is the duty of God s people to be steadfast and vigorous in their opposi 
tion to the designs and ways of such as are endeavoring to overthrow the king 
dom of Christ, and the interest of religion. But yet many persons seem to be 
quite mistaken concerning the nature of Christian fortitude. It is an exceeding 
diverse thing from a brutal fierceness, or the boldness of the beasts of prey. 
True Christian fortitude consists in strength of mind, through grace, exerted in 
two things ; in ruling and suppressing the evil and unruly passions and affec 
tions of the mind ; and in steadfastly and freely exerting, and following good 
affections and dispositions, without being hindered by sinful fear, or the opposi 
tion of enemies. But the passions that are restrained and kept under, in the 
exercise of this Christian strength and fortitude, are those very passions that are 
vigorously and violently exerted in a false boldness for Christ. And those af 
fections that are vigorously exerted in true fortitude, are those Christian, holy 
affections that are ^directly contrary to them ; Though Christian fortitude ap 
pears, in withstanding and counteracting the enemies that are without us ; yet 
it much more appears, in resisting and suppressing the enemies that are within 
us ; because they are our worst and strongest enemies, and have greatest ad 
vantage against us. The strength of the good soldier of Jesus Christ appears 
in nothing more, than in steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, 
sweetness, and benevolence of his mind, amidst all the storms, injuries, strange 
behavior, and s irprising acts and events of this evil and unreasonable world 


The Scripture seems to intimate that true fortitude consists chiefly in this : Prov. 
xvi. 32, He that is slow to anger, is better than the mighty ; and he that rul- 
eth his spirit, than he that taketh a city." 

The directest and surest way in the world, to make a right judgment what 
a holy fortitude is, in fighting with God s enemies, is to look to the Captain of 
all God s hosts, and our great leader and example, and see wherein his forti 
tude and valor appeared, in his chief conflict, and in the time of the greatest 
battle that ever was, or ever will be fought with these enemies, when he fought 
with them afone, and of the people there was none with him, and exercised his 
fortitude in the highest degree that ever he did, and got that glorious victory 
that will be celebrated in the praises and triumphs of all the hosts of heaven, 
throughout all eternity ; even to Jesus Christ in the time of his last sufferings, 
when his enemies in earth and hell made their most violent attack upon him, 
compassing him round on every side, like renting and roaring lions. Doubtless 
here we shall see the fortitude of a holy warrior and champion in the cause of 
God, in its highest perfection and greatest lustre, and an example fit for the 
soldiers to follow that fight under this Captain. But how did he show his holy 
boldness and valor fit that time ? Not in the exercise of any fiery passions ; 
not in fierce and violent speeches, and vehemently declaiming against and cry 
ing out of the intolerable wickedness of opposers, giving them their own in plain 
terms : but in not opening his mouth when afflicted and oppressed, in going as 
a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, not open 
ing his mouth ; praying that the Father would forgive his cruel enemies be 
cause they knew not what they did ; not shedding others blood, but with all 
conquering patience and love, shedding his own. Indeed one of his disciples, 
that made a forward pretence to boldness for Christ, and confidently declared 
he would sooner die with Christ than deny him, began to lay about him with 
a sword: but Christ meekly rebukes him, and heals the wound he gives. Ami 
never was the patience, meekness, love, and forgiveness of Christ in so glorious 
a manifestation, as at that time. Never did he appear so much a lamb, and 
never did he show so much of tke dovelike spirit, as at that time. If therefore 
we see any of the followers of Christ, in the midst of the most violent, unrea 
sonable, and wicked opposition of God s and his own enemies, maintaining un 
der all this temptation, the humility, quietness, and gentleness of a lamb, and 
the harmlessness, and love and sweetness of a dove, we may well judge that 
here is a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 

When persons are fierce and and violent, and exert their sharp and bitter 
passions, it shows weakness instead of strength and fortitude. 1 Cor. iii. at 
the beginning, " And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, 
but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. For ye are yet carnal : for 
whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, 
and walk as men ?" 

There is a pretended boldness for Christ that arises from no better principle 
than pride. A man may be forward to expose himself to the dislike of the 
world, and even to provoke their displeasure out of pride. For it is the nature 
of spiritual pride to cause men to seek distinction and singularity ; and so often 
times to set themselves at war with those that they call carnal, that they may be 
more highly exalted among their party. True boldness for Christ is uni 
versal, and overcomes all, and carries men above the displeasure of friends and 
foes ; so that they will forsake all rather than Christ ; and will rather offend all 
parties, and be thought meanly of by all, than offend Christ. And that duty 
which tries whether a man is willing to be despised by them that are of his own 


party, and thought the least worthy to be regarded by them, is a much more 
proper trial of his boldness for Christ, than his being forward to expose himself 
to the reproach of opposers. The apostle sought not glory, not only of Heath 
ens and Jews, but of Christians ; as he declares, 1 Thess. ii. 6.* He is bold 
for Christ, that has Christian fortitude enough, to confess his fault openly, when 
he has committed one that requires it, and as it were to come down upon his 
knees before opposers. Such things as these are of vastly greater evidence of 
holy boldness, than resolutely and fiercely confronting opposers. 

As some are much mistaken concerning the nature of true boldness for 
Christ, so they are concerning Christian zeal. It is indeed a flame, but a sweet 
one ; or rather it is the heat and fervor of a sweet flame. For the flame of 
which it is the heat, is no other than that of divine love, or Christian charity ; 
which is the sweetest and most benevolent thing that is, or can be, in the heart 
of man or angel. Zeal is the fervor of this flame, as it ardently and vigorously 
goes out towards the good that is its object, in desires of it, and pursuit after it : 
and so consequentially, in opposition to the evil that is contrary to it, and im 
pedes it. There is indeed opposition, and vigorous opposition, that is a part of it, 
or rather is an attendant of it ; but it is against things, and not persons. Bitterness 
against the persons of men is no part of it, but is very contrary to it ; insomuch 
that so much the warmer true zeal is, and the higher it is raised, so much the 
farther are persons from such bitterness, and so much fuller of love, both to the 
evil and to the good. As appears from what has been just now observed, that it is 
no other, in its very nature and essence, than the fervor of a spirit of Christian love. 
And as to what opposition there is in it to things, it is firstly and chiefly against 
the evil things in the person himself, who has this zeal : against the enemies of 
God and holiness, that are in his own heart (as these are most in view, and 
what he has most to do with) ; and but secondarily against the sins of others. 
And therefore there is nothing in a true Christian zeal, that is contrary to that 
spirit of meekness, gentleness, and love, that spirit of a little child, a lamb and 
dove, that has been spoken of ; but it is entirely agreeable to it, and tends to 
promote it. 

But to say something particularly concerning this Christian spirit I have 
been speaking of, as exercised in these three things, forgiveness, love, and mer 
cy ; I would observe that the Scripture is very clear and express concerning 
the absolute necessity of each of these, as belonging to the temper and char 
acter of every Christian. 

It is so as to a forgiving spirit, or a disposition to overlook and forgive 
injuries. Christ gives it to us both as a negative and positive evidence; 
and is express in teaching us, that if we are of such a spirit, it is a sign 
that we are in a state of forgiveness and favor ourselves : and that if we are 
not of such a spirit, we are not forgiven of God ; and seems to take special 
care that we should take good notice of it, and always bear it on our minds : 
Matt. vi. 12, 14, 15, " Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. For if 
ve forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your 
trespasses." Christ expresses the same again at another time, Mark xi. 25, 26, 
and again in Matt, xviii. 22, to the end, in the parable of the servant that owed 
his lord ten thousand talents, that would not forgive his fellow servant a hun 
dred pence ; and therefore was delivered to the tormentors. In the application 

* Mr. Shepard, speaking of hypocrites affecting applause, says, " Hence men forsake their friends, 
and trample under foot the scorns of tne world: they have credit elsewhere. To maintain their interest 
m the love of godly rrer, they will suffer much." Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part I. p. 180. 


of the parable Christ says, ver. 35, " So likewise shall my heavenly Father do, 
if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." 

And that all true saints are of a loving, benevolent, and beneficent temper, 
the Scripture is very plain and abundant. Without it the apostle tells us, 
though we should speak with the tongues of men and angels, we are as a 
sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal ; and that though we have the gift of pro 
phecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, yet without this spirit 
we are nothing. And there is no one virtue or disposition of the mind, that is 
so often, and so expressly insisted on, in the marks that are laid down in the 
New Testament, whereby to know true Christians. It is often given as a sign 
that is peculiarly distinguishing, by which all may know Christ s disciples, and 
by which they may know themselves ; and is often laid down, both as a nega 
tive and positive evidence. Christ calls the law of love, by way of eminency, 
his commandment : John xiii. 34, " A new commandment give I unto you, that 
ye love one another ; as 1 have loved you, that ye also love one another." And 
chap. xv. 12, " This is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have 
loved you." And ver. 17, " These things I command you, that ye love one an 
other." And says, chap. xiii. 35, " By this shall all men know that ye are my 
disciples, if ye have love one to another." And chap. xiv. 21 (still with a spe 
cial reference to this which he calls his commandment), " He that hath ray 
commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." The beloved dis 
ciple who had so much of this sweet temper himself, abundantly insists on it, in 
his epistles. There is none of the apostles so much in laying down express 
signs of grace, for professors to try themselves by, as he ; and in his signs, he 
insists scarcely on any thing else, but a spirit of Christian love, and an agreea 
ble practice : 1 John ii. 9, 10, " He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his 
brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in 
the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him." Chap. iii. 14, " We 
know that we are passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren : 
he that loveth not his brother abideth in death." Ver. 18, 19, " My little children, 
let us not love in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And hereby 
we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him." Ver. 
23, 24, " This is his commandment, that we -should love one another. And he 
that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him ; and hereby 
we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." Chap. 
iv. 7, 8, " Beloved, let us love one another : for love is of God ; and every one 
that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth 
not God : for God is love." Ver. 12, 13, " No man hath seen God at any time. 
If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 
Hereby know we that we dwell in him, because he hath given us of his Spirit." 
Ver. 16, " God is love ; and he that dwelieth in love, dwelleth in God, and God 
in him." Ver. 20, " If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar ; 
for he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, 
whom he hath not seen ?" 

And the Scripture is as plain as it is possible it should be, that none are true 
saints, but those whose true character it is, that they are of a disposition to pity 
and relieve their fellow creatures, that are poor, indigent, and afflicted : Psal. 
xxxvii. 21, " The righteous showeth mercy, and giveth." Ver. 26, "He is ever 
merciful, and lendeth." Psal. cxii. 5, " A good man showeth favor, arid lendeth." 
Ver. 9, " He hath dispersed abroad, and given to the poor." Prov. xiv. 31, " He 
that honoreth God, hath mercy on the poor." Prov. xxi. 26, " The righteous giveth, 
and spareth not." Jer. xxii. 16, " He judged the cause of the poor and needy, 


then it was well with him : Was not this to know me ? saith the Lord." Jam. 
i. 27, " Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, To visit 
the fatherless and widows in their affliction," &c. Hos. vi. 6, " For I have de 
sired mercy, and not sacrifice ; and the knowledge of God, more than burnt 
offerings." Matt. v. 7, " Blessed are the merciful ; for they shall obtain mercy." 
2 Cor. viii. 8, " I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the for 
wardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love." Jam. ii. 13 16, 
" For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy. What 
doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not 
works ? Can faith save him ? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute 
of daily food ; and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed 
and filled ; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to 
the body, what doth it profit?" 1 John iii. 17, " Whoso hath this world s good, 
and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from 
him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ?" Christ in that description he 
gives us of the day of judgment, Matt. xxv. (which is the most particular that 
we have in the Bible), represents that judgment will be passed at that day, ac 
cording as men have been found to have been of a merciful spirit and practice, 
or otherwise. Christ s design in giving such a description of the process of that 
day, is plainly to possess all his followers with that apprehension, that unless 
this was their spirit and practice, there was no hope of their being accepted and 
owned by him at that day. Therefore this is an apprehension that we ought 
to be possessed with. We find in Scripture, that a righteous man, and a mer 
ciful man are synonymous expressions, Isa : Ivii. 1, " The righteous perisheth, 
and no man layeth it to heart ; and merciful men are taken away, none consid 
ering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come." 

Thus we see how full, clear, and abundant, the evidence from Scripture is, 
that those who are truly gracious, are under the government of that lamblike, 
dovelike Spirit of Jesus Christ, and that this is essentially and eminently the 
nature of the saving grace of the gospel, and the proper spirit of true Christi 
anity. We may therefore undoubtedly determine, that all truly Christian affec 
tions are attended with such a spirit, and that this is the natural tendency of the 
fear and hope, the sorrow and the joy, the confidence and the zeal of true Chris 

None will understand me, that true Christians have no remains of a contra 
ry rpirit, and can never, in any instances, be guilty of a behavior disagreeable 
to such a spirit. But this I affirm, and shall affirm, until I deny the Bible to 
be any thing worth, that every thing in Christians that belongs to true Christi 
anity, is of this tendency, and works this way ; and that there is no true Chris 
tian upon earth, but is so under the prevailing power of such a spirit, that he 
is properly denominated from it, and it is truly and justly his character : and 
that therefore ministers, and others, have no warrant from Christ to encourage 
persons that are of a contrary character and behavior, to think they are convert 
ed, because they tell a fair story of illuminations and discoveries. In so doing, 
they would set up their own wisdom against Christ s, and judge without, and 
against that rule by which Christ has declared all men should know his disci 
ples. Some persons place religion so much in certain transient illuminations 
and impressions (especially if they are in such a particular method and order), 
and so little in the spirit and temper persons are of, that they greatly deform 
religion, and form notions of Christianity quite different from what it is, as de 
lineated in the Scriptures. The Scripture knows of no such true Christians, as 
are of a sordid, selfish, cross and contentious spirit. Nothing can be invented 


that is a greater absurdity, than a morose, hard, close, high-spirited, spiteful, 
true Christian. We must learn the way of bringing men to rules, and not rules 
to men, and so strain and stretch the rules of God s word, to take in ourselves, 
and some of our neighbors, until we make them wholly of none effect. 

It is true, that allowances must be made for men s natural temper, with re 
gard to these things, as well as others ; but not such allowances, as to allow 
men, that once were wolves and serpents, to be now converted, without any re 
markable change in the spirit of their mind. The change made by true conver 
sion is wont to be most remarkable and sensible, with respect to that which 
before was the wickedness the person was most notoriously guilty of. Grace 
has as great a tendency to restrain and mortify such sins, as are contrary to the 
spirit that has been spoken of, as it is to mortify drunkenness or lasciviousness. 
Yea, the Scripture represents the change wrought by gospel grace, as especially 
appearing in an alteration of the former sort : Isa. xi. 6 9, " The wolf shall 
dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid : and the calf, 
and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. 
And the cow and the bear shall feed, their young ones shall lie down together : 
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on 
the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice s 
den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain : for the earth 
shall be full of the knowledge oi the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." And 
to the same purpose is Isa. Ixv. 25. Accordingly we find, that in the primitive 
times of the Christian church, converts were remarkably changed in this res 
pect : Tit. iii. 3, &c., " For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobe 
dient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, 
hateful and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God 
our Saviour towards man appeared he saved us by the washing of regenera 
tion, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." And Col. iii. 7, 8, " In the which 
ye also walked sometime, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off 
all these : anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communications out of your 

IX. Gracious affections soften the heart, and are attended and followed 
with a Christian tenderness of spirit. 

False affections, however persons may seem to be melted by them while 
they are new, yet have a tendency in the end to harden the heart. A dispo 
sition to some kind of passions may be established ; such as imply self-seeking, 
self-exaltation, and opposition to others. But false affections, with the delusion 
that attends them, finally tend to stupify the mind, and shut it up against those 
affections wherein tenderness of heart consists : and the effect of them at last is, 
that persons in the settled frame of their minds, become less affected with their 
present and past sins, and less conscientious with respect to future sins, less 
moved with the warnings and cautions of God s word, or God s chastisements 
in his providence, more careless of the frame of their hearts, and the manner and 
tendency of their behavior, less quicksighted to discern what is sinful, less afraid 
of the appearance of evil, than they were while they were under legal awaken 
ings and fears of hell. Now they have been the subjects of such and such im 
pressions and affections, and have a high opinion of themselves, and look on 
their state to be safe ; they can be much more easy than before, in living in the 
neglect of duties that are troublesome and inconvenient ; and are much more 
slow and partial in complying with difficult commands ; are in no measure so 
alarmed at the appearance of their own defects and transgressions ; are em 
boldened to favor themselves more, with respect to the labor, and painful care 


and exactness in their walk, and more easily yield to temptations, and the solici 
tations of their lusts ; and have far less care of their behavior, when they come 
into the holy presence of God, in the time of public or private worship. For 
merly it may be, under legal convictions, they took much pains in religion, and 
denied themselves in many things : but now they think themselves out of dan 
ger of hell, they very much put off the burden of the cross, and save themselves 
the trouble of difficult duties, and allow themselves more in the enjoyment of 
their ease and their lusts. 

Such persons as these, instead of embracing Christ as their Saviour from 
sin, trust in him as the Saviour of their sins ; instead of flying to him as their 
refuge from their spiritual enemies, they make use of him as the defence of their 
spiritual enemies, from God, and to strengthen them against him. They make 
Christ the minister of sin, and great officer and vicegerent of the devil, to 
strengthen his interest, and make him above all things in the world strong 
against Jehovah ; so that they may sin against him with good courage, and 
without any fear, bein<j effectually secured from restraints, by his most solemn 
warnings and most awful threatenings. They trust in Christ to preserve to them 
the quiet enjoyment of their sins, and to be their shield to defend them from 
God s displeasure ; while they come close to him, even to his bosom, the place 
of his children, to fight against him, with their mortal weapons, hid under their 
skirts.* However, some of these, at the same time, make a great profession of 
love to God, and assurance of his favor, and great joy in tasting the sweetness 
of his love. 

After this manner they trusted in Christ, that the Apostle Jude speaks of, 
who crept in among the saints unknown ; but were really ungodly men, turning 
the grace of God into lasciviousness, Jude 4. These are they that trust in their 
being righteous ; and because God has promised that the righteous shall surely 
live, or certainly be saved, are therefore emboldened to commit iniquity, whom 
God threatens in Ezek. xxxiii. 13 : " When I shall say to the righteous, that he 
shall surely live ; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity ; all 
his righteousness shall not be remembered, but for his iniquity that he hath 
committed, he shall die for it." 

Gracious affections are of a quite contrary tendency ; they turn a heart of 
stone more and more into a heart of flesh. A holy love and hope are principles 
that are vastly more efficacious upon the heart, to make it tender, and to fill it 
with a dread of sin, or whatever might displease and offend God, and to engage 
it to watchfulness, and care, and strictness, than a slavish fear of hell. Gracious 
affections, as was observed before, flow out of a contrite heart, or (as the word 
signifies) a bruised heart, bruised and broken with godly sorrow ; which makes 
the heart tender, as bruised flesh is tender, and easily hurt. Godly sorrow has 
much greater influence to make the heart tender, than mere legal sorrow from 
selfish principles. 

The tenderness of the heart of a true Christian, is elegantly signified by our 
Saviour, in his comparing such a one to a little child. The flesh of a little child 
is very tender ; so is the heart of one that is new born. This is represented in 
what we are told of Naamaa s cure of his leprosy, by his washing in Jordan , 

* "These are hypocrites that believe, but fail in regard of the use of the gospel, and of the Lord 
Jesus. And these we read of, Jude 3, viz., of some men that did turn grace into wantonness. For therein 
appears the exceeding evil of man s heart, that not only the law, but also the glorious gospel of the Lord 
Jesus, works in him all manner of unrighteousness. And it is too common for men at the first worfr of 
conversion, Oh then to cry for grace and Christ, and afterwards grow licentious, live and lie in the 
breach of the law, and take their warrant for their course from the gospel !" Shepard s Parable, Part I 
page 126. 


\\ hich was undoubtedly a type of the renewing of the soul, by washing in the 
Jav r er of regeneration. We are told, 2 Kings v. 14, " That he went down, and 
dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of 
God ; arid his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child." Not only 
is the flesh of a little child tender, but his mind is tender. A little child has his 
heart easily moved, wrought upon and bowed : so is a Christian in spiritual 
things. A little child is apt to be affected with sympathy, to weep with them 
that weep, and cannot well bear to see others in distress : so it is with a Chris 
tian, John xi. 25, Rom. xii. 15, 1 Cor. xii. 26. A little child is easily won by 
kindness : so is a Christian. A little child is easily affected with grief at tem 
poral evils, and has his heart melted, and falls a weeping : thus tender is the 
heart of a Christian, with regard to the evil of sin. A little child is easily af 
frighted at the appearance of outward evils, or any thing that threatens its hurt : 
so is a Christian apt to be alarmed at the appearance of moral evil, and any 
thing that threatens the hurt of the soul. A little child, when it meets enemies, 
or fierce beasts, is not apt to trust its own strength, but flies to its parents for 
refuge : so a saint is not self-confident in engaging spiritual enemies, but flies to 
Christ. A little child is apt to be suspicious of evil in places of danger, afraid 
in the dark, afraid when left alone, or far from home : so is a saint apt to be 
sensible of his spiritual dangers, jealous of himself, full of- fear when he cannot 
see his way plain before him, afraid to be left alone, and to be at a distance 
from God : Prov. xxviii. 14, " Happy is the man that feareth alway : but he 
that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief." A little child is apt to be 
afraid of superiors, and to dread their anger, and tremble at their frowns and 
threatenings : so is a true saint with respect to God : Psal. cxix. 120, " My 
flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments." Isa. Ixvi. 2, 
" To this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and trembleth at my word." 
ver. 5, "Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word." Ezra. ix. 

4, "Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words 
of the God of Israel." Chap. x. 3, " According to the counsel of my Lord, and 
of those that tremble at the commandment of our God." A little child ap 
proaches superiors with awe : so do the saints approach God with holy awe 
and reverence : Job xiii. 2, " Shall not his excellency make you afraid 1 And 
his dread fall upon you ?" Holy fear is so much the nature of true godliness, 
that it is called in Scripture by no other name more frequently, than the fear of 

Hence gracious affections do not tend to make men bold, forward, noisy, 
and boisterous ; but rather to speak trembling : Hos. xiii. 1, " When Ephraim 
spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel ; but when he offended in Baal, 
he died ;" and to clothe with a kind of holy fear in all their behavior towards 
God and man; agreeably to Psal. ii. 11, 1 Pet. iii. 15, 2 Cor. vii. 15, Eph. vi. 

5, 1 Pet. iii. 2, Rom. xi. 20. 

But here some may object and say, is there no such thing as a holy boldness 
in prayer, and the duties of divine worship ? I answer, there is doubtless such 
a thing ; and it is chiefly to be found in eminent saints, persons of great degrees 
of faith and love. But this holy boldness is not in the least opposite to rever 
ence; though it be to disunion and servility. It abolishes or lessens that dis 
position w r hich arises from moral distance or alienation; and also distance of 
relation, as that of a slave ; but hot at all, that which becomes the natural dis 
tance, whereby we are infinitely inferior. No boldness in poor sinful worms of 
lie dust, that have a right sight of God and themselves, will prompt them to 
approach to God with less fear and reverence, than spotless and glorious angels 

VOL. III. 22 


in heaven, who cover their faces before his throne, Isa. vi., at the beginning 
Rebecca (who in her marriage with Isaac, in almost all its circumstances, was 
manifestly a great type of the church, the spouse of Christ) when she meets 
Isaac, lights off from her camel, and takes a vail and covers herself ; although 
she was brought to him as his bride, to be with him in the nearest relation, and 
most intimate union, that mankind are ever united one to another.* Elijah, 
that great prophet, who had so much holy familiarity with God, at a time of spe 
cial nearness to God, even when he conversed with him in the mount, wrapped 
his face in his mantle. Which was not because he was terrified with any servile 
fear, by the terrible wind, and earthquake, and fire; but after these were all 
over, and God spake to him as a friend, in a still small voice : 1 Kings xix. 12, 
13, " And after the fire, a still small voice ; and it was so, when Elijah heard 
it, he wrapped his face in his mantle." And Moses, with whom God spake 
face to face, as a man speaks with his friend, and was distinguished from all the 
prophets, in the familiarity with God that he was admitted t o ; at a time when 
he was brought nearest of all. when God showed him his glory in that same 
mount where he afterwards spake to Elijah : " He made haste, and bowed his 
head towards the earth, and worshipped," Exod. xxxiv. 8. There is in some 
persons a most unsuitable and unsufferable boldness, in their addresses to the 
great Jehovah, in an affectation^ of a holy boldness, and ostentation of eminent 
nearness and familiarity ; the very thoughts of which would make them shrink 
into nothing, with horror and confusion, if they saw the distance that is be 
tween God and them. They are like the Pharisee, that boldly came up near, 
in a confidence of his own eminency in holiness. Whereas, if they saw their 
vileness, they would be more like the publican, that " stood afar off, and durst 
not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven ; but smote upon his breast, saying, 
God be merciful^to me a sinner." It becomes such sinful creatures as we, to 
approach a holy God (although with faith, and without terror, yet) with con 
trition, and penitent shame and confusion of face. It is foretold that this should 
be the disposition of the church, in the time of her highest privileges on earth in 
her latter day of glory, when God should remarkably comfort her, by revealing 
his covenant mercy to her, Ezek. xvi. 60, to the end : " I will establish unto 
thee an everlasting covenant. Then thou shalt remember thy ways and be 
ashamed. And 1 will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt know 
that I am the Lord ; that thou mayest remember and be confounded and never 
open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward 
thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God." The woman that we 
read of in the 7th chapter of Luke, that was an eminent saint, and had much of 
that true love which casts out fear, by Christ s own testimony, ver. 47, she ap 
proached Christ in an amiable and acceptable manner, when she came with 
that humble modesty, reverence and shame, when she stood at his feet, weeping 
behind him, as not being fit to appear before his face, and washed his feet with 
her tears. 

One reason why gracious affections are attended with this tenderness of 
spirit which has been spoken of, is, that true grace tends to promote convictions 
of conscience. Persons are wont to have convictions of conscience before they 
have any grace : and if afterwards they are truly converted, and have true re 
pentance, and joy, and peace in believing ; this has a tendency to put an end to 
terrors, but has no tendency to put an end to tonvictions of sin, but to increase 

* Dr. Ames, in his Cases of Conscience, Book [II. chap, iv., speaks of a holy modesty in the worship 
of God as one sign of true humility. 


them. It does not stupify man s conscience ; but makes it more sensible, more 
easily and thoroughly discerning the sinfulness of that which is sinful, and re 
ceiving a greater conviction of the heinous and dreadful nature of sin, susceptive 
of a quicker and deeper sense of it, and more convinced of his own sinfulness 
and wickedness of his heart ; and consequently it has a tendency to make him 
more jealous of his heart. Grace tends to give the soul a further and better 
conviction of the same things concerning sin, that it was convinced of, under a 
legal work of the Spirit of God ; viz., its great contrariety to the will, and law. 
and honor of God, the greatness of God s hatred of it, and displeasure against 
it, and the dreadful punishment it exposes to and deserves. And not only so, 
but it convinces the soul of something further concerning sin, that it saw nothing 
of, while only under legal convictions ; and that is the infinitely hateful nature 
of sin, and its dreadfulriess upon that account. And this makes the heart tender 
with respect to sin ; like David s heart, that smote him when he had cut off Saul s 
skirt. The heart of a true penitent is like a burnt child that dreads the fire. 
Whereas, on the contrary, he that has had a counterfeit repentance, and false 
comforts and joys, is like iron that has been suddenly heated and quenched ; it 
becomes much harder than before. A false conversion puts an end to convictions 
of conscience ; and so either takes away, or much diminishes that conscientious 
ness, which was manifested under a work of the law. 

All gracious affections have a tendency to promote this Christian tender 
ness of heart, that has been spoken of; not only a godly sorrow, but also a 
gracious joy : Psal. ii. 11, " Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with tremble- 
ing." As also a gracious hope : Psal. xxxiii. 18, " Behold the eye of the Lord 
is upon them that fear him ; upon them that hope in his mercy." And Psal. 
cxlvii. 11, " The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope 
in his mercy." Yea, the most confident and assured hope, that is truly gracious, 
has this tendency. The higher a holy hope is raised, the more there is of this 
Christian tenderness. The banishing of a servile fear, by a holy assurance, is 
attended with a proportionable increase of a reverential fear. The diminish 
ing of the fear of the fruits of God s displeasure in future punishment, is attend 
ed with a proportionable increase of fear of his displeasure itself ; the diminish 
ing of the fear of hell, with an increase of the fear of sin. The vanishing of 
jealousies of the person s state, is attended with a proportionable increase of 
jealousies of his heart, in a distrust of its strength, wisdom, stability, faithful 
ness, &c. The less apt he is to be afraid of natural evil, having his heart fix 
ed, trusting in God, and so not afraid of evil tidings ; the more apt he is to be 
alarmed, with the appearance of moral evil, or the evil of sin. As he has more 
holy boldness, so he has less of self-confidence, and a forward assuming bold 
ness, and more modesty. As he is more sure than others of deliverance from 
hell, so he has more of a sense of the desert of it. He is less apt than others 
to be shaken in faith ; but more apt than others to be moved with solemn 
warnings, and with God s frowns, and with the calamities of others. He has 
the firmest comfort, but the softest heart : richer than others, but th e poorest 
of all in spirit : the tallest and strongest saint, but the least and tenderest child 
among them. 

X. Another thing wherein those affections that are truly gracious and holy, 
differ from those that are false, is beautiful symmetry and proportion. 

Not that the symmetry of the virtues, and gracious affections of the saints, in 
this life is perfect : it oftentimes is in many things defective, through the im 
perfection of grace, for want of proper instructions, through errors in judgment, 
or some particular unhappiness of natural temper, or defects in education, and 


many other disadvantages that might be mentioned. But yet there is, in no 
wise, that monstrous disproportion in gracious affections, and the various parts 
of true religion in the saints, that is very commonly to be observed, in the false 
religion, and counterfeit graces, of hypocrites. 

In the truly holy affections of the saints is found that proportion, which is 
the natural consequence of the universality of their sanctification. They have 
the whole image of Christ upon them : they have put. off the, old man, and have 
put on the new man entire in all its parts and members. It hath pleased the 
Father that in Christ all fulness should dwell : there is in him every grace ; he 
is full of grace and truth : and they that are Christ s, do, " of his fulness re 
ceive grace for grace" (John i. 14,^16) ; i. e., there is every grace in them 
which is in Christ ; grace for grace ; that is, grace answerable to grace : 
there is no grace in Christ, but there is its image in believers to answer it : the 
image is a true image ; and there is something of the same beautiful proportion 
in the image, which is in the original ; there is feature for feature, and member 
for member. There is symmetry and beauty in God s workmanship. The natural 
body, which God hath made, consists of many members ; and all are in a beau 
tiful proportion : so it is in the new man, consisting of various graces and af 
fections.- The body of one that was born a perfect child, may fail of exact pro 
portion through distemper, and the weakness and wounds of some of its mem 
bers ; yet the disproportion is in no measure like that of those that are born 

It is with hypocrites, as it was with Ephraim of old, at a time when God 
greatly complains of their hypocrisy, Hos. vii. 8 : " Ephraim is a cake not 
turned," half roasted and half raw : there is commonly no manner of uniform 
ity in their affections. 

There is in many of them a great partiality with regard to the several kinds 
of religious affections ; great affections in some things, and no manner of pro 
portion in others. A holy hope and holy fear go together in the saints, as 
has been observed from Psal. xxxiii. 18, and cxlvii. 1 1. But in some of these 
is the most confident hope, while they are void of reverence, self-jealousy and 
caution, to a great degree cast off fear. In the saints, joy and holy fear go to 
gether, though the joy be never so great : as it was with the disciples, in that 
joyful morning of Christ s resurrection, Matt, xxviii. 8 : " And they departed 
quickly from the sepulchre, with fear and great joy."* But many of these re 
joice without trembling : their joy is of that sort, that it is truly opposite to 
godly fear. 

But particularly one great difference between saints and hypocrites is this, 
that the joy and comfort of the former is attended with godly sorrow and mourn 
ing for sin. They have not only sorrow to prepare them for their first comfort, 
but after they are comforted, and their joy established. As it is foretold of the 
church of God, that they should mourn and loathe themselves for their sins, after 
they were returned from the captivity, and were settled in the land of Canaan, 
the land of rest, and the land that flows with milk and honey, Ezek. xx. 42, 
43 : " And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall bring you into the 
land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to 
your fathers. And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, 
wherein ye have been defiled, and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight 
for all your evils that ye have committed." As also in Ezek. xvi. 61, 62, 63. 

* " Renewed care and diligence follows the sealings cf the Spirit. Now is the soul at the foot of 
Christ, as Mary was at the sepulchre, with fear and great joy. He that travels the road with a rich trea 
sure about him, is afraid of a thief in every bush." FlaveVs Sacramental Meditations, Med. 4. 


A true saint is like a little child in this respect ; he never had any godly sorrow 
before he was born again ; but since has it often in exercise : as a little child, 
before it is born, and while it remains in darkness, never cries ; but as soon as 
H sees the light, it begins to cry ; and thenceforward is often crying. Although 
Christ hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, so that we are freed from 
the sorrow of punishment, and may now sweetly feed upon the comforts Christ 
hath purchased for us ; yet that hinders not but that our feeding on these com 
forts should be attended with the sorrow of repentance. As of old, the children 
of Israel were commanded, evermore to feed upon the paschal lamb, with bitter 
herbs. True saints are spoken of in Scripture, not only as those that have 
mourned for sin, but as those that do mourn, whose manner it is still to mourn : 
Matt. v. 4, " Blessed are they that mourn ; for they shall be comforted." 

Not only is there often in hypocrites an essential deficiency as to the various 
kinds of religious affections, but also a strange partiality and disproportion, in 
the same affections, with regard to different objects. 

Thus, as to the affection of love, some make high pretences, and a great 
show of love to God and Christ, and it may be, have been greatly affected with 
what they have heard or thought concerning them : but they have not a spirit of 
love and benevolence towards men, but are disposed to contention, envy, revenge, 
and evil speaking ; and will, it may be, suffer an old grudge to rest in their bo 
soms towards a neighbor, for seven years together, if not twice seven years ; liv 
ing in real ill will and bitterness of spirit towards him : and it may be in their deal 
ings with their neighbors, are not very strict and conscientious in observing the 
rule of il doing to others as they would that they should do to them." And, 
on the other hand, there are others that appear as if they had a great deal of be 
nevolence to men, are very good natured and generous in their way, but have 
no love to God. 

And as to love to men, there are some that have flowing affections to some; 
but their love is far from being of so extensive and universal a nature, as a truly 
Christian love is. They are full of dear affections to some, and full of bitterness 
towards others. They are knit to their own party, them that approve of them, 
love them and admire them ; but are fierce against those that oppose and dislike 
them. Matt. v. 45, 46, " Be like your Father which is in heaven ; for he mak- 
eth his sun to rise upon the evil, and on the good. For if ye love them 
which love you, what reward have ye ? Do not even the publicans the same ?" 
Some show a great affection to their neighbors, and pretend to be ravished with 
the company of the children of God abroad; and at the same time are uncom 
fortable and churlish towards their wives and other near relations at home, and 
are very negligent of relative duties. And as to the great love to sinners and 
opposers of religion, and the great concern for their souls, that there is an 
appearance of in some, even to extreme distress and agony, singling out a 
particular person, from among a multitude, for its object, there being at the 
same time no general compassion to sinners, that are in equally miserable cir 
cumstances, but what is in a monstrous disproportion ; this seems not to be of 
the nature of gracious affection. Not that I suppose it to be at all strange, that 
pity to the perishing souls of sinners should be to a degree of agony, if other 
things are answerable : or that a truly gracious compassion to souls should be 
exercised much more to some persons than others that are equally miserable, 
especially on some particular occasions : there may many things happen to fix 
the mind, and affect the heart, with respect to a particular person, at such a 
juncture ; and without doubt some saints have been in great distress for the souls 
of particular persons, so as ti- be as it were in travail for them ; but when per- 


sons appear, at particular times, in racking agonies for the soul of some singk 
person, far beyond what has been usually heard or read of in eminent saints, 
but appear to be persons that have a spirit of meek and fervent love, charity, 
and compassion to mankind in general, in a far less degree than they : I say, 
such agonies are greatly to be suspected, for reasons already given ; viz., that 
the Spirit of God is wont to give graces and gracious affections in a beautiful 
symmetry and proportion. 

And as there is a monstrous disproportion in the love of some, in its exer 
cises towards different persons, so there is in their seeming exercises of love 
towards the same persons. Some men show a love toothers as to their outward 
man, they are liberal of their worldly substance, and often give to the poor; 
but have no love to, or concern for the souls of men. Others pretend a great 
love to men s souls, that are not compassionate and charitable towards their 
bodies. The making a great show of love, pity and distress for souls, costs 
. them nothing ; but in order to show mercy to men s bodies, they must part with 
money out of their pockets. But a true Christian love to our brethren extends 
both to their souls and bodies ; and herein is like the love and compassion 01 
Jesus Christ. He showed mercy to men s souls, by laboring for them, in 
preaching the gospel to them ; and showed mercy to their bodies in going about 
doing good, healing all manner of sickness and diseases among the people. 
We have a remarkable instance of Christ s having compassion at once both to 
men s souls and bodies, and showing compassion by feeding both, in Mark vi 
34, &c. : " And Jesus when he came out, saw much people, and was moved 
with compassion towards them, because they were as sheep not having a shep 
herd; and he began to teach them many things." Here was his compassion 
to their souls. And in the sequel we have an account of his compassion to 
their bodies, because they had been a long while having nothing to eat ; he fed 
five thousand of them with five loaves and two fishes. And if the compassion 
of professing Christians towards others does not work in the same ways, it is a 
sign that it is no true Christian compassion. 

And furthermore, it is a sign that affections are not of the right sort, if per 
sons seem to be much affected with the bad qualities of their fellow Christians, 
as the coldness and lifelessness of other saints, but are in no proportion affected 
with thejr own defects and corruptions. A true Christian may be affected with 
the coldness and unsavoriness of other saints, and may mourn much over it : but 
at the same time, he is not so apt to be affected with the badness of any body s 
heart, as his own ; this is most in his view ; this he is most quicksighted to dis 
cern ; this he sees most of the aggravations of, and is most ready to lament 
And a less degree of virtue will bring him to pity himself, and be concerned at 
his own calamities, than rightly to be affected with others calamities. And if 
men have not attained to the less, we may determine they never attained to the 

And here by the way, I would observe, that it may be laid do\vn as a general 
rule, that if persons pretend that they come to high attainments in religion, but 
have never yet arrived to the less attainments, it is a sign of a vain pretence. 
As if persons pretend, that they have got beyond mere morality, to live a spir 
itual and divine life ; but really have not come to be so much as moral persons : 
or pretend to be greatly affected with the wickedness of their hearts, and are 
not affected with the palpable violations of God s commands in their practice, 
which is a less attainment : or if they pretend to be brought to be even willing 
to be damned for the glory of God, but have no forwardness to suffer a little in 
their estates and names, and worldly convenience, foi the sake of their duty : or 


pretend that they are not afraid to venture their souls upon Christ, and commit 
their all to God, trusting t9 his bare word, and the faithfulness of his promises, 
for their eternal welfare ; but at the same time, have not confidence enough in 
God, to dare to trust him with a little of their estates, bestowed to pious and 
charitable uses ; I say, when it is thus with persons, their pretences are mani 
festly vain. He that is in a journey, and imagines he has got far beyond such a 
place in his road, and never yet came to it, must be mistaken ; and he is not yet 
arrived to the top of the hill, that never yet got half way thither. But this by 
the way. 

The same that has been observed of the affection of love, is also to be ob 
served of other religious affections. Those that are true, extend in some pro 
portion to the various things that are their due and proper objects ; but when they 
are false, they are commonly strangely disproportionate. So it is with religious 
desires and longings : these in the saints, are to those things that are spiritual and 
excellent in general, and that in some proportion to their excellency, im 
portance or necessity, or their near concern in them ; but in false longing it 
is often far otherwise. They will strangely run, with an impatient vehe 
mence, after something of less importance, when other things of greater im 
portance are neglected. Thus for instance, some persons, from time to time, 
are attended with a vehement inclination, and unaccountably violent pressure, 
to declare to others what they experience, and to exhort others ; when there 
is, at the same time, no inclination, in any measure equal to it, to other things, 
that true Christianity has as great, yea, a greater tendency to; as the pouring 
out the soul before God in secret, earnest prayer and praise to him, and 
more conformity to him, and living more to his glory, &c. We read in 
Scripture of " groanings that cannot be uttered, and soul breakings for the long 
ing it hath, and longings, thirstings, and pantings," much more frequently to 
these latter things, than the former. 

And so as to hatred and zeal ; when these are from right principles, they are 
against sin in general, in some proportion to the degree of sinfulness : Psal. cxix. 
104, " I hate every false way." So ver. 128. But a false hatred and zeal 
against sin, is against some particular sin only. Thus some seem to be very 
zealous against profaneness, and pride in apparel, who themselves are notorious 
for covetousness, closeness, and it may be backbiting, envy towards superiors, 
turbulency of spirit towards rulers, and rooted ill will to them that have injured 
them. False zeal is against the sins of others, while men have no zeal against 
their own sins. But he that has true zeal, exercises it chiefly against his own 
sins ; though he shows also a proper zeal against prevailing and dangerous in 
iquity in others. And some pretend to have a great abhorrence of their own 
sins of heart, and cry out much of their inward corruption , and yet make light 
of sins in practice, and seem to commit them without much restraint or remorse; 
though these imply sin both in heart and life. 

As there is a much greater disproportion in the exercises of false affections 
than of true, as to different objects, so there is also, as to different times. For 
although true Christians are not always alike ; yea, there is very great differ 
ence, at different times, and the best have reason to be greatly ashamed of their 
unsteadiness ; yet there is in no wise that instability and inconstancy in the 
hearts of those who are true virgins, " that follow the Lamb whithersoever he 
goeth," which is in false-hearted professors. The righteous man is truly said 
to be one whose heart is fixed, trusting in God, Psal. cxii. 7, and to have his 
heart established with grace, Heb. xiii. 9, and to hold on his way, Job. xvii. 9 : 
" The righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall wax 



stronger and stronger." It is spoken of as a note of the hypocrisy of the Jew 
ish church, that they were as a swift dromedary, traversing her ways. 

If therefore persons are religious only by fits and starts ; if they now and 
then seem to be raised up to the clouds ia their affections, and then suddenly 
fall down again, lose all, and become quite careless and carnal, and this is theii 
manner of carrying on religion ; if they appear greatly moved, and mightily 
engaged in religion, only in extraordinary seasons, in the time of a remarkable 
outpouring of the Spirit, or other uncommon dispensation of providence, or upon 
the real or supposed receipt of some great mercy, when they have received 
some extraordinary temporal mercy, or suppose that they are newly con 
verted, or have lately had what they call a great discovery ; but quickly re 
turn to such a frame, that their hearts are chiefly upon other things, and the 
prevailing bent of their hearts and stream of their affections, is ordinarily to 
wards the things of this world ; when they are like the children of Israel in the 
wilderness, who had their affections highly raised by what God had done for 
them at the Red Sea, and sang his praise, and soon fell a lusting after the 
fleshpots of Egypt ; but then again, when they came to Mount Sinai, and saw 
the great manifestations God made of himself there, seemed to be greatly engaged 
again, and mightily forward to enter into covenant with God, saying, " All that 
the Lord hath spoken will we do, and be obedient," but then quickly made them 
a golden calf; I say, when it is thus with persons, it is a sign of the unsound- 
ness of their affections.* They are like the waters in the time of a shower of 
rain, which, during the shower, and a little after, run like a brook, and flow 
abundantly ; but are presently quite dry ; and when another shower comes, then 
they will flow again. Whereas a true saint is like a stream from a living 
spring ; which, though it may be greatly increased by a shower of rain, and 
diminished in time of drought, yet constantly runs: John iv. 14, "The water 
that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up," &c., or 
like a tree planted by such a stream, that has a constant supply at the root, and 
is always green, even in time of the greatest drought : Jer. xvii. 7, 8, " Blessed 
is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall 
be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, 
and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green, and shall not 
be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit." Many 
hypocrites are like comets that appear for a while with a mighty blaze ; but are 
very unsteady and irregular in their motion (and are therefore called wander 
ing stars, Jude 13), and their blaze soon disappears, and they appear but once in 
a great while. But the true saints are like the fixed stars, which, though they rise 
and set, and are often clouded, yet are steadfast in their orb, and may truly be said 
to shine with a constant light. Hypocritical affections are like a violent motion ; 
like that of the air that is moved with winds (Jude 12), but gracious affections are 
more a natural motion ; like the stream of a river, which, though it has many turns 

*- Dr. Owen (on the Spirit, Bx>k IIL Chap., ii. Sect. 18), speaking of a common work of the Spirit, 
says, " This work operates greatly on the affections : we have given instances, in fear, sorrow, joy and 
delight, about spiritual things, that are stirred up and acted thereby : but yet it comes short in two things, 
of a thorough work upon the affections themselves. For first, it doth not fix them. And secondly, it doth 
not fill them." 

"There is (says Dr. Preston) a certain love, by fits, which God accepts not : when men come and 
offer to God great promises, like the waves of the sea, as big as mountains : oh, they think they will do 
much for God ! But their minds change ; and they become as those high waves, which at last fall level 
with the other wafers." 

Mr. Flavel, speaking of these changeable professors, says, "These professors have moreot the moon 
than of the sun : little light, less heat, and many changes. They deceive many, yea, they deceive them 
selves, but cannot deceive God. They want that ballast and establishment in themselves, that would 
have k-j pt them tight and steady." Touchstone of Sincerity, Chap. ii. Sec. 2. 


hither and thither, and may meet with obstacles, and runs more freely and swift 
ly in some places than others ; yet in the general, with a steady and constant 
course, tends the same way, until it gets to the ocean. 

And as there is a strange unevenness and disproportion in false affections, at 
different times ; so there often is in different places. Some are greatly affected 
from time to time, when in company ; but have nothing that bears any manner 
of proportion to it in secret, in close meditation, secret prayer, and conversing 
with God, when alone, and separated fiom all the world.* A true Christian 
doubtless delights in religious fellowship, and Christian conversation, and finds 
much to affect his heart in- it; but he also delights at times to retire from all 
mankind, to converse with God in solitary places. And this also has its peculiar 
advantages for fixing his heart, and engaging its affections. True religion dis 
poses persons to be much alone in solitary places, for holy meditation and prayer. 
So it wrought in Isaac, Gen. xxiv. 63. And which is much more, so it wrought 
in Jesus Christ. How often do we read of his retiring into mountains and soli 
tary places, for holy converse with his Father ! It is difficult to conceal great 
affections, but yet gracious affections are of a much more silent and secret nature, 
than those that are counterfeit. So it is with the gracious sorrow of the saints. So 
it is with their sorrow for their own sins. Thus the future gracious mourning of 
true penitents, at the beginning of the latter day glory, is represented as being 
so secret, as to be hidden from the companions of their bosom, Zech.xii. 12, 13, 
14 : " And the land shall mourn, every family apart, the family of the house of 
David apart, and their wives apart: the family of the house of Nathan apart, 
and their wives apart : the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives 
apart : the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart : all the families that 
remain, every family apart, and their wives apart." So it is with their sorrow 
for the sins of others. The saints pains and travailing for the souls of sinners 
are chiefly in secret places : Jer. xiii. 17, " If ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep 
in secret places for your pride, arid mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with 
tears, because the Lord s flock is carried away captive." So it is with gracious 
joys : they are hidden manna, in this respect, as well as others, Rev. ii. 17. 

The Psalmist seems to speak of his sweetest comforts, as those that were to 
be had in secret: Psal. Ixiii. 5, 6, "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow 
and fatness ; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips : when I remem 
ber thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches." Christ 
calls forth his spouse,, away from the world, into retired places, that he may give 
her his sweetest love : Cant. vii. 11, 12, " Come, my beloved, let us go forth into 
the field ; let us lodge in the villages : there I will give thee my loves." The 
most eminent divine favors that the saints obtained, that we read of in Scripture, 
were in their retirement. The principal manifestations that God made of him 
self, and his covenant mercy to Abraham, were when he was alone, apart from 
his numerous family ; as any one will judge that carefully reads his history. 
Isaac received that special gift of God to him, Rebekah, who was so great a 

* "The Lord is neglected secretly, yet honored openly ; because there is no wind in their chambers 
to blow their sails ; and therefore there they stand still. Hence many men keep their profession, when 
they lose their affection. They have by the one a name to live (and that is enough) though their hearts 
be dead. And hence so long as you love and commend them, so long they love you ; but if not, they will 
forsake you. They were warm only by another s fire, and hence, having no principle of life within, soon 
grow dead. This is the water that turns a Pharisee s mill." Shepard s Parable, Part I. p. 180. 

"The hypocrite (says Mr. Flavel) is not for the closet, but the synagogue, Matt. vi. 5, 6. It is not 
his meat and drink to retire from the clamor of the world, to enjoy God in secret." Touchstone of Sin 
cerity, Chap. vii. Sect. 2. 

Dr. Ames, in his Cases of Conscience, Lib. III. Chap, v., speaks of it as a thing by which sincerity 
may be known, " That persons be obedient in the absence, as well as in the presence of lookers on ; ; n 
secret, as well, yea more, than in public :" alleging Phil. ii. 12, and Matt. Vi. 6. 

VOL. III. 23 


comfort to him, and by whom he obtained the promised seed, walking alone, 
meditating in the field. Jacob was retired for secret prayer, when Christ came 
to him, and he wrestled with him, and obtained the blessing. God revealed 
himself to Moses in the bush, when lie was in a solitary place in the desert, in 
Mount Horeb, Exod. iii. at the beginning. Arid afterwards, when God showed 
him his glory, and he was admitted to the highest degree of communion with 
God that ever he enjoyed ; he was alone, in the same mountain, and continued 
there forty days and forty nights, and then came down with his face shining. 
God came to those great prophets, Elijah and Elisha, and conversed freely with 
them, chiefly in their retirement. Elijah conversed alone with God at Mount 
Sinai, as Moses did. And when Jesus Christ had his greatest prelibation of his 
future glory, when he was transfigured ; it was not when he was with the mul 
titude, or with the twelve disciples, but retired into a solitary place in a moun 
tain, with only three select disciples, charging them that they should tell no man, 
until he was risen from the dead. When the angel Gabriel came to the blessed 
virgin, and when the Holy Ghost came upon her, and the power of the Highest 
overshadowed her, she seems to have been alone, and to be in this matter hid 
from the world ; her nearest and dearest earthly friend Joseph, that had betrothed 
her (though a just man), knew nothing of the matter. And she that first par 
took of the joy of Christ s resurrection, was alone with Christ at the sepulchre, 
John xx. And when the beloved disciple was favored with those wonderful 
visions of Christ and his future dispensations towards the church and the world, 
he was alone in the isle of Patmos. Not but that we have also instances of 
great privileges that the saints have received when with others ; or that there is 
not much in Christian conversation, and social and public worship, tending greatly 
to refresh and rejoice the hearts of the saints. But this is all that I aim at by 
what has been said, to show that it is the nature of true grace, that however it 
loves Christian society in its place, yet it in a peculiar manner delights in retire 
ment, and secret converse with God. So that if persons appear greatly engaged 
in social religion, and but little in the religion of the closet, and are often highly 
affected when with others, and but little moved when they have none but God 
and Christ to converse with, it looks very darkly upon their religion. 

XL Another great and very distinguishing difference between gracious af 
fections and others is, that gracious affections, the higher they are raised, the 
more is a spiritual appetite and longing of soul after spiritual attainments in 
creased. On the contrary, false affections rest satisfied in themselves.* 

The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to 
love him, and the more uneasy is he at his want of love to him ; the more he 
hates sin, the more he desires to hate it, and laments that he has so much remain 
ing love to it ; the more he mourns for sin, the more he longs to mourn for sin ; 
the more his heart is broke, the more he desires it should be broke : the more 
he thirsts and longs after God and holiness, the more he longs to long, and 
breathe out his very soul in longings after God : the kindling and raising of gra 
cious affections is like kindling a flame ; the higher it is raised, the more ardent 
it is ; and the more it burns, the more vehemently does it tend and seek to burn 
So that the spiritual appetite after holiness, and an increase of holy affections, 
is much more lively and keen in those that are eminent in holiness, than others , 
and more when grace and holy affections are in their most lively exercise, than 
at other times. It is as much the nature of one that is spiritually new born, to 
thirst after growth in holiness, as it is the nature of a new born babe to thirst 

* " Truly there is no work of Christ that is right (says Mr. Shepard) hut it carries the soul to lon| 
tor more of it." Parable of the Ten Virgins, Part I. p. 136. 


after the mother s breast ; who has the sharpest appetite, when best in health 
1 Pet. ii. 2, 3, u As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye 
may grow thereby : if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." Th 
most that the saints have in this world, is but a taste, a prelibation of that future 
glory which is their proper fulness ; it is only an earnest of their future inheri 
tance in their hearts, 2 Cor. i. 22, and v. 5, and Eph. i. 14. The most eminen 
saints in this state are but children, compared with their future, which is their 
proper state of maturity and perfection ; as the apostle observes, 1 Cor. xiii. 10, 
11. The greatest eminency that the saints arrive to in this world, has no ten 
dency to satiety, or to abate their desires after more ; but, on the contrary, makes 
them more eager to press forwards ; as is evident by the apostle s words, Phil, 
iii. 13, 14, 15: "Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth 
unto those things which are before, I press towards the mark. Let us therefore, 
as many as be perfect, be thus minded." 

The reasons of it are, that the more persons have of holy affections, the 
more they have of that spiritual taste which I have spoken of elsewhere ; 
whereby they perceive the excellency, and relish the divine sweetness of holi 
ness. And the more grace they have, while in this state of imperfection, the 
more they see their imperfection and emptiness, and distance from what ought 
to be : and so the more do they see their need of grace ; as 1 showed at large 
before, when speaking of the nature of evangelical humiliation. And besides, 
grace, as long as it is imperfect, is of a growing nature, and in a growing state. 
And we see it to be so with all living things, that while they are in a state of 
imperfection, and in their growing state, their nature seeks after growth ; and 
so much the more, as they are more healthy and prosperous. Therefore the 
cry of every true grace, is like that cry of true faith, Mark ix. 24 : " Lord, 
believe, help thou my unbelief." And the greater spiritual discoveries and af 
fections the true Christian has, the more does he become an earnest beggar fo? 
grace, and spiritual food, that he may grow ; and the more earnestly does he 
pursue after it, in the use of proper means and endeavors; for true and graciou? 
longings after holiness are no idle ineffectual desires. 

But here some may object and say, How is this consistent with what al 
allow, that spiritual enjoyments are of a soul satisfying nature 1 

I answer, its being so, will appear to be not at all inconsistent with what has 
been said, if it be considered in what manner spiritual enjoyments are said to be 
of a soul satisfying nature. Certainly they are not so in that sense, that they 
are of so cloying a nature, that he who has any thing of them, though but in a 
very imperfect degree, desires no more. But spiritual enjoyments are of a soul 
satisfying nature in the following respects. 1. They in their kind and nature, 
are fully adapted to the nature, capacity, and need of the soul of man. So that 
those who find them, desire no other kind of enjoyments ; they sit down fully 
contented with that kind of happiness which they have, desiring no change, nor 
inclining to wander about any more, saying, " Who will show us any good ?" 
The soul is never cloyed, never weary ; but perpetually giving up itself, with 
all its powers, to this happiness. But not that those who have something of 
this happiness, desire no more of the same. 2. They are satisfying also in this 
respect, that they answer the expectation of the appetite. When the appetite 
is high to any thing, the expectation is consequently so. Appetite to a particu 
lar object, implies expectation in its nature. This expectation is not satisfied 
by worldly enjoyments ; the man expected to have a great accession of happi 
ness, but he is disappointed. But it is not so with spiritual enjoyments ; they 
fully answer and satisfy the expectation. 3. The gratification and pleasure of 


spiritual enjoyments is permanent. It is not so with worldly enjoyments. They 
in a sense satisfy particular appetites : but the appetite, in being satisfied, is 
glutted, and then the pleasure is over : and as soon as that is over, the general ap 
petite of human nature after happiness returns; but is empty, and without any 
thing to satisfy it. So that the glutting of a particular appetite, does but take 
away from, and leave empty, the general thirst of nature. 4. Spiritual good is 
satisfying, as there is enough in it to satisfy the soul, as to degree, if obstacles 
were but removed, and the enjoying faculty duly applied. There is room enough 
here for the soul to extend itself; here is an infinite ocean of it. . If men be not 
satisfied here, in degree of happiness, the cause is with themselves ; it is because 
they do not open their mouths wide enough. 

But these things do not argue that a soul has no appetite excited after more 
of the same, that has .tasted a little ; or that his appetite will not increase, the 
more he tastes, until he comes to fulness of enjoyment : as bodies that are at 
tracted to the globe of the earth, tend to it more strongly, the nearer they come 
to the attracting body, and are not at rest out of the centre. Spiritual good is 
of a satisfying nature ; and for that very reason, the soul that tastes, and knows 
its nature, will thirst after it, and a fulness of it, that it may be satisfied. And 
the more he experiences, and the more he knows this excellent, unparalleled, 
exquisite, and satisfying sweetness, the more earnestly will he hunger and thirst 
for more, until he comes to perfection. And therefore this is the nature of 
spiritual affections, that the greater they be, the greater the appetite and longing 
is, after grace and holiness. 

But with those joys, and other religious affections, that are false and coun 
terfeit, it is otherwise. If before, there was a great desire, of some sort, after 
grace ; as these affections rise, that desire ceases, or is abated. It may be be 
fore, while the man was under legal convictions, and much afraid of hell, he 
earnestly longed that he might obtain spiritual light in his understanding, and faith 
in Christ, and love to God : but now, when these false affections are risen, that 
deceive him, and make him confident that he is converted, and his state good 
there are no more earnest longings after light and grace ; for his end is answer 
ed ; he is confident that his sins are forgiven him, and that he shall go to heaven; 
arid so he is satisfied. And especially when false affections are raised very 
high, they put an end to longings after grace and holiness. The man now is 
far from appearing to himself a poor empty creature ; on the contrary, he is 
rich, and increased with goods, and hardly conceives of any thing more excel 
lent than what he has already attained to. 

Hence there is an end to many persons earnestness in seeking, after they 
have once obtained that which they call their conversion ; or at least, after they 
have had those high affections^ that make them fully confident of it. Before 
while they looked upon themselves as in a state of nature, they were engaged 
in seeking after God and Christ, and cried earnestly for grace, and strove in the 
use of means : but now they act as though they thought their work vras done ; 
they live upon their first work, or some high experiences that are past ; and 
there is an end to their crying, and striving after God and grace. Whereas 
the holy principles that actuate a true saint, have a far more powerful influence 
to stir him up to earnestness in seeking God and holiness, than servile fear. 
Hence seeking God is spoken of as one of the distinguishing characters of the 
saints ; and those that seek God is one of the names by which the godly are called 
in Scripture : Psal. xxiv. 6," This is the generation of them that seek him, that 
seek thy face, Jacob !" Psal. Ixix. 6, " Let not those that seek thee, be con 
founded for my sake." Ver. 32, " The humble shall see this and be glad : and 


year heart shall live that seek God." And Ixx. 4, " Let all those that seek 
thee, rejoice, and be glad in thee : and let such as love thy salvation say con 
tinually, The Lord be magnified." And the Scriptures everywhere represent 
the seeking, striving, and labor of a Christian, as being chiefly after his conver 
sion, and his conversion as being but the beginning of his work. And almost 
all that is said in the New Testament, of men s watching, giving earnest heed 
to themselves, running the race that is set before them, striving, and agonizing, 
wrestling not with flesh and blood, but principalities and powers, fighting, put 
ting on the whole armor of God, and standing, having done all to stand, press 
ing forward, reaching forth, continuing instant in prayer, crying to God day and 
night ; I say, almost all that is said in the New Testament of these things, is 
spoken of, and directed to the saints. Where these things are applied to sinners 
seeking conversion once, they are spoken of the saints prosecution of the great 
business of their high calling ten times. But many in these days have got into 
a strange antiscriptural way, of having all their striving and wrestling over be 
fore they are converted ; and so having an easy time of it afterwards, to sit 
down and enjoy their sloth and indolence ; as those that now have a supply of 
their wants, and are become rich and full. But when the Lord " fills the hungry 
with good things, these rich are like to be sent away empty," Luke i. 53. 

But doubtless there are some hypocrites, that have only false affections, who 
will think they are able to stand this trial ; and will readily say, that they desire 
not to rest satisfied with past attainments, but to be pressing forward, they do 
desire more, they long after God and Christ, and desire more holiness, and do 
seek it. But the truth is, their desires are not properly the desires of appetite 
after holiness, for its own sake, or for the moral excellency and holy sweetness 
that is in it ; but only for by-ends. They long after clearer discoveries, that 
they may be better satisfied about the state of their souls; or because in great 
discoveries self is gratified, in being made so much of by God, and so exalted 
above others ; they long to taste the love of God (as they call it) more than to 
have more love to God. Or, it may be, they have a kind of forced, fancied, or 
made longings ; because they think they must long for more grace, otherwise 
it will be a dark sign upon them. But such things as these are far different from 
the natural, and as it were necessary appetite and thirsting of the new man, 
after God and holiness. There is an inward burning desire that a saint has 
after holiness, as natural to the new creature, as vital heat is to the body. There 
is a holy breathing and panting after the Spirit of God, to increase holiness, as 
natural to a holy nature, as breathing is to a living body. And holiness or 
sanctification is more directly the object of it, than any manifestation of God s 
love and favor. This is the meat and drink that is the object of the spiritual 
appetite : John iv. 34, " My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to 
finish his work." Where we read in Scripture of the desires, longings, and 
thirstings of the saints, righteousness and God s laws are much more frequently 
mentioned, as the object of them, than any thing else. The saints desire the 
sincere milk of the word, not so much to testify God s love to them, as that 
they may grow^ thereby in holiness. I have shown before, that holiness is that 
good which is the immediate object of a spiritual taste. But undoubtedly the 
same sweetness that is the chief object of a spiritual taste, is also the chief ob 
ject of a spiritual appetite. Grace is the godly man s treasure : Isa. xxxii, 6, 
"The fear of the Lord is his treasure." Godliness is the gain that he is covetous 
and greedy of. 1 Tim. vi. 6. Hypocrites long for discoveries, more for the 
present comfort of the discovery, and the high manifestation of God s love in it, 
than for any sanctifying influence of it. But neither a longing after great dis- 


coveries, or after great tastes of the love of God, nor longing to be in heaven, 
nor longing to die, are in any measure so distinguishing marks of true saints, as 
longing after a more holy heart, and living a more holy life. 

But I am come now to the last distinguishing mark of holy affections that 1 
shall mention. 

XII. Gracious and holy affections have their exercise and fruit in Christian 
practice. 1 mean, they have that influence and power upon him who is the sub* 
ject of them, that they cause that a practice, which is universally conformed to, 
and directed by Christian rules, should be the practice and business of. his life. 

This implies three things : 1. That his behavior or practice in the world, 
be universally conformed to, and directed by Christian rules. 2. That he makes 
a business of such a holy practice above all things ; that it be a business which 
he is chiefly engaged in, and devoted to, and pursues with highest earnestness 
and diligence : so that he may be said to make this practice of religion emi 
nently his work and business. And 3. That he persists in it to the end of life : 
so that it may be said, not only to be his business at certain seasons, the busi 
ness of Sabbath days, or certain extraordinary times, or the business of a month, 
or a year, or of seven years, or his business under certain circumstances ; but the 
business of his life ; it being that business which he perseveres in through all 
changes, and under all trials, as long as he lives. 

The necessity of each of these, in all true Christians, is most clearly and 
fully taught in the word of God. 

1. It is necessary that men should be universally obedient : 1 John iii. 3, 
&c., " Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is 
pure. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins ; and in 
him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not ; whosoever sinneth, 
hath not seen him, neither known him. He that doeth righteousness, is right 
eous even as he is righteous : he that committeth sin is of the devil." Chap. v. 
18, " We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not, but he that is be 
gotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." John 
xv. 14, " Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." 

If one member only be corrupt, and we do not cut it off, it will carry the 
whole body to hell, Matt. v. 29, 30. Saul was commanded to slay all God s 
enemies, the Amalekites ; and he slew all but Agag, and the saving him alive 
proved his ruin. Caleb and Joshua entered into God s promised rest, because 
they wholly followed the Lord, Numb. xiv. 24, and xxxii. 11, 12, Deut. i. 36, 
Josh. xiv. 6, 8, 9, 14. Naaman s hypocrisy appeared in that, however he 
seemed to be greatly affected with gratitude to God for healing his leprosy, and 
engaged to serve him, yet in one thing he desired to be excused. And Herod, 
though he feared John, and observed him, and heard him gladly, and did many 
things ; yet was condemned, in that in one thing he would not hearken to him, 
even in parting with his beloved Herodias. So that it is necessary that men 
should part with their dearest iniquities, which are as their right hand and 
right eyes, sins that most easily beset them, and which they are most exposed to 
by their natural inclinations, evil customs, or particular circumstances, as well 
as others. As Joseph would not make known himself to his brethren, who had 
sold htm, until Benjamin the beloved child of the family, that was most hardly 
parted with, was delivered up ; no more will Christ reveal his love to us, until 
we part with our dearest lusts, and until we are brought to comply with the 
most difficult duties, and those that we have the greatest aversion to. 

And it is of importance that it should be observed, that in order to a man s 
beip truly said to be universally obedient, his obedience must not only consist in 


negatives, or in universally avoiding wicked practices, consisting in sins of com 
mission, but he must also be universal in the positives of religion. Sins of 
omission are as much breaches of God s commands, as sins of commission. 
Christ, in Matt. xxv. represents those on the left hand as being condemned and 
cursed to everlasting fire for sins of omission. " I was an hungered, and ye gave 
me no meat," &c. A man, therefore, cannot be said to be universally obedient, 
and of a Christian conversation, only because he is no thief, nor oppressor, nor 
fraudulent person, nor drunkard, nor tavern haunter, nor whoremaster, nor riot 
er, nor night walker, nor unclean, nor profane in his language, nor slanderer, 
nor liar, nor furious, nor malicious, nor reviler. He is falsely said to be of a 
conversation that becomes the gospel, who goes thus far and no farther ; but in 
order to this, it is necessary that he should also be of a serious, religious, devout, 
humble, meek, forgiving, peaceful, respectful, condescending, benevolent, mer 
ciful, charitable and beneficent walk and conversation. Without such things as 
these, he does not obey the laws of Christ, and laws that he and his apostles did 
abundantly insist on, as of the greatest importance and necessity. 

2. In order to men s being true Christians, it is necessary that they prose 
cute the business of religion, and the service of God with great earnestness and 
diligence, as the work which they devote themselves to, and make the main 
business of their lives. All Christ s peculiar people not only do good works, 
but are zealous of good w r orks, Tit. ii. 14. No man can do the service of two 
masters at once. They that are God s true servants do give up themselves to 
his service, and make it as it were their whole work, therein employing their 
whole hearts, and the chief of their strength : Phil. iii. 13, " This one thing I 
do." Christians in their effectual calling, are not called to idleness, but to labor 
in God s vineyard, and spend their day in doing a great and laborious service. 
All true Christians comply with this call (as is implied in its being an effectual 
call), and do the work of Christians ; which is everywhere in the New Tes 
tament compared to those exercises wherein men are wont to exert their 
strength with the greatest earnestness, as running, wrestling, fighting. All true 
Christians are good and faithful soldiers of Jesus Christ, and " fight the good 
fight of faith ;" for none but those who do so, do " ever lay hold on eternal 
life." Those who " fight as those that beat the air," never win the crown of 
victory. " They that run in a race, run all, but one wins the prize," and they 
that are slack and negligent in their course, do not " so run as that they may ob 
tain." The kingdom of heaven is not to be taken but by violence. Without 
earnestness there is no getting along, in that narrow way that leads to life ; 
and so no arriving at that state of glorious life and happiness which it leads to. 
Without earnest labor there is no ascending the steep and high hill of Zion, and so 
PO arriving at the heavenly city on the top of it. Without a constant laborious- 
n^ss there is no stemming the swift stream in which we swim, so as ever to 
c^me to that fountain of "water of life that is at the head of it. There is need 
that we should " watch and pray always, in order to our escaping those dread- 
fi i things that are coming on the ungodly, and our being counted worthy to 
stand before the Son of man." There is need of our " putting on the whole 
armor of God, and doing all, to stand," in order to our avoiding a total over- 
tl"-ow, and being utterly destroyed by " the fiery darts of the devil." There is 
noed that we should " forget the things that are behind $ and be reaching forth 
to the things that are before, and pressing towards the mark for the prize of 
th- high calling of God in Christ Jesus our Lord," in order to our obtaining 
tht prize. Slothfulness in the service of God in his professed servants, is as 
d?nning as open rebel] ; nn ; for the slothful servant is a wicked servant, and 



shall be cast into outer darkness, among God s open enemies, Matt. xxv. 26, 
30. They that are slothful are not " followers of them who through faith 
and patience inherit the promises." Heb. vi. 11, 12, " And we desire that 
every one of you do show the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto 
the end ; that ye be not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and 
patience inherit the promises." And all they who follow that cloud of witnesses 
that are gone before to heaven, " do lay aside every weight, and the sin that 
easily besets them, and do run with patience the race that is set before them," 
Heb. xii. 1. That true faith, by which persons rely on the righteousness of 
Christ, and the work that he hath done for them, and do truly feed and live upon 
him, is evermore accompanied with such a spirit of earnestness in the Chris 
tian work and course. Which was typified of old, by the manner of the chil 
dren of Israel s feeding on the paschal lamb ; who were directed to eat it, as 
those that were in haste, with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, and 
their staff in their hand, Exod. xii. 11. 

3. Every true Christian perseveres in this way of universal obedience, and 
diligent and earnest service of God, through all the various kinds of trials that 
he meets with, to the end of life. That all true saints, all those that do obtain 
eternal life, do thus persevere in the practice of religion, and the service of God, 
is a doctrine so abundantly taught in the Scripture, that particularly to rehearse 
all the texts which imply it would be endless; I shall content myself with refer 
ring to some in the margin.* 

But that perseverance in obedience, which is chiefly insisted on in the 
Scripture, as a special note of the +ruth of grace, is the continuance of profess 
ors in the practice of their duty, and being steadfast in a holy walk, through the 
various trials that they meet with. 

By trials here, I mean those things that occur, and that a professor meets 
with in his course, that do especially render his continuance in his duty and 
faithfulness to God, difficult to nature. These things are from time to time 
called in Scripture by the name of trials, or temptations (which are words of 
the same signification). These are of various kinds : there are many things 
that render persons continuance in the way of their duty difficult, by their teh- 
dencv to cherish and foment, or to stir up and provoke their lusts and corrup 
tions. Many things make it hard to continue in the way of their duty, by their 
being of an alluring nature, and having a tendency to entice persons to sin, or 
by their tendency to take off restraints, and embolden them in iniquity. Other 
things are trials of the soundness and steadfastness of professors, by their ten 
dency to make their duty appear terrible to them, and so to affright and drive 
them from it ; such as the sufferings which their duty will expose them to ; pain, 
ill will, contempt, and reproach, or loss of outward possessions and comforts. 
If persons, after they have made a profession of religion, live any considerable 
time in this world, which is so full of changes, and so full of evil, it cannot be 
otherwise than that they should meet with many trials of their sincerity and 
steadfastness. And besides, it is God s manner, in his providence, to bring tri 
als on his professing friends and servants designedly, that he may manifest 
them, and may exhibit sufficient matter of conviction of the state which they 
are in, to their own consciences, and oftentimes to the world ; as appears by 
innumerable Scriptures. 

* Deut. v. 29 ; Deut. xxxii. 18, 19, 20 ; 1 Chron. xxviii. 9 ; Psai. ",xxviii. 7, 8, 10, 11, 35, 36, 37, 41, 
42, 56, &c. ; Psal. cvi. 3, 1215 ; Psal. cxxv. 4, 5 ; Prov. xxvi. 11 ; Isa. Ixiv. 5 ; Jer. xvii. 13 ; Ezek. iii. 
20, and xviii. 24, and xxxiii. 12, 13 ; Matth. x. 22, and xiii. 4 8, with verses 19 23, and xxv. 8, and 
xxiv. 12, 13, Luke ix. 62, and xii. 35, &c., and xxii, 2S, and xvii. 32 ; John viii. 30, 31. and xv. 6, 7, 8 


True saints may be guilty of some kinds and degiees of backsliding, and 
nay be foiled by particular temptations, and may fall into sin, yea great sins ; 
out they never can fall away so as to grow weary of religion, and the service 
of God, and habitually to dislike it and neglect it, either on its own account, or 
on account of the difficulties that attend it ; as is evident by Gal. vi. 9, Rom. 
ii. 7, Heb. x. 36, Isa. xliii. 22, Mai. i. 13. They can never backslide, so as to 
continue no longer in a way of universal obedience; or so, that it shall cease 
to be their manner to observe all the rules of Christianity, and do all duties re 
quired, even in the most difficult circumstances. This is abundantly manifest 
by the things that have been observed already. Nor can they ever fall away 
so as habitually to be more engaged in other things than in the business of re 
ligion; or so that it should become their way and manner to serve something 
else more than God ; or so as statedly to cease to serve God, with such ear 
nestness and diligence, as still to be habitually devoted and given up to the 
business of religion ; unless those words of Christ can fall to the ground, " Ye 
cannot serve two masters," and those of the apostle, " He that will be a friend 
of the world, is the enemy of God;" and unless a saint can change his God, 
and yet be a true saint. Nor can a true saint ever fall away so, that it shall 
come to this, that ordinarily there shall be no remarkable difference in his 
walk and behavior since his conversion, from what was before. They that are 
truly converted are ne\v men, new creatures ; new not only within, but without ; 
they are sanctified throughout, in spirit, soul and body ; old things are passed 
away, all things are become new ; they have new hearts, and new eyes, new 
ears, new tongues, new r hands, new feet ; i. e., a new conversation and practice ; 
and they walk in newness of life, and continue to do so to the end of life. And 
they that fall away, and cease visibly to do so, it is a sign they never w T ere risen 
with Christ. And especially when men s opinion of their being converted, and 
so in a safe estate, is the very cause of their coming to this, it is a most evident 
sign of their hypocrisy. And that, whether their falling away be into their 
former sins, or into some new kind of wickedness, having the corruption of na 
ture only turned into a new channel, instead of its being mortified. As when 
persons that think themselves converted, though they do not return to former 
profaneness and lewdness ; yet from the high opinion they have of their expe 
riences, graces, and privileges, gradually settle more and more in a self-right 
eous and spiritually proud temper of mind, and in such a manner of behavior as 
naturally arises therefrom. When it is thus with men, however far they may 
seem to be from their former evil practices, this alone is enough to condemn 
them, and may render their last state far w^orse than the first. For this seems 
to be the very case of the Jew r s of that generation that Christ speaks of, Matt, 
xii. 43, 44, 45, who being awakened by John the Baptist s preaching, and 
brought to a reformation of their former licentious courses, whereby the unclean 
spirit was as it were turned out, and the house swept and garnished ; yet, be 
ing empty of God and of grace, became full of themselves, and were exalted in 
an exceeding high opinion of their own righteousness and eminent holiness, and 
became habituated to an answerably self-exalting behavior ; so changing the 
sins of publicans and harlots, for those of the Pharisees ; and in issue, had seven 
devils, worse than the first. 

Thus I have explained W hat exercise and fruit I mean, when I say, that 
gracious affections have their exercise arid fruit in Christian practice. 

The reason why gracious affections have such a tendency and effect ap- 

10, 16 ; Rom. ii. 7, and x. 22 ; Col. i. 22, 23 , Heb. iii. 6, 12, 14, and vi. 1 1, 12, and x. 35, &c. ; James i 
25 ; Rev. ii. 13, 26, and ii. 10 : 2 Tim. ii. 15 : 2 Tim. iv. 48. 

VOL. Ill 24 


pears from many things that have already been observed, in the preceding parts 
of this discourse. 

The reason of it appears from this, that gracious affections do arise from 
those operations and influences which are spiritual, and that the inward princi 
ple from whence they flow, is something divine, a communication of God, a par 
ticipation of the divine nature, Christ living in the heart, the Holy Spirit dwell 
ing there, in union with the faculties of the soul, as an internal vital principle, 
exerting his own proper nature, in the exercise of those faculties. This is suf 
ficient to show us why true grace should have such activity, power, and efficacy. 
No wonder that which is divine, is powerful and effectual ; for it has omnipo 
tence on its side. If God dwells in the heart, and be vitally united to it, he 
will show that he is a God, by the efficacy of his operation. Christ is not in 
the heart of a saint, as in a sepulchre, or as a dead saviour, that does nothing; 
but as in his temple, and as one that is alive from the dead. For in the heart 
where Christ savingly is, there he lives, and exerts himself after the power of 
that endless life that he received at his resurrection. Thus every saint that is a 
subject of the benefit of Christ s sufferings, is made to know and experience 
the power of his resurrection. The Spirit of Christ, which is the immediate 
spring of grace in the heart, is all life, all power, all act : 1 Cor. ii. 4, " In de 
monstration of the Spirit, and of power. 1 Thess. i. 5, " Our gospel came not 
unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost." 1 Cor. iv 
20, " The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." Hence saving affec 
tions, though oftentimes they do not make so great a noise and show as others, 
yet have in them a secret solidity, life, and strength, whereby they take hold of 
and carry away the heart, leading it into a kind of captivity, 2 Cor. x. 5, gain 
ing a full and steadfast determination of the will for God and holiness. Psal. 
ex. 3, " Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." And thus it is 
that holy affections have a governing power in the course of a man s life. A 
statue may look very much like a real man, and a beautiful man ; yea, it may 
have, in its appearance to the eye, the resemblance of a very lively, strong, and 
active man ; but yet an inward principle of life and strength is wanting ; and 
therefore it does nothing, it brings nothing to pass, there is no action or opera 
tion to answer the show. False discoveries and affections do not go deep 
enough to reach and govern the spring of men s actions and practice. The seed 
in stony ground had not deepness of earth, and the root did not go deep enough 
to bring forth fruit. But gracious affections go to the very bottom of the heart, 
and take hold of the very inmost springs of lite and activity. 

Herein chiefly appears the power of true godliness, viz., in its being effectual 
in practice. And the efficacy of godliness in this respect, is what the apostle 
has respect to, when he speaks of the power of godliness, 2 Tim. iii. 5, as is 
very plain ; for he there is particularly declaring, how some professors of reli 
gion would notoriously fail in the practice of it, and then in the 5th verse observes, 
that in being thus of an unholy practice, they deny the power of godliness, though 
they have the form of it. Indeed the power of godliness is exerted in the first 
place within the soul, in the sensible, lively exercise of gracious affections there. 
Yet the principal evidence of this power of godliness, is in those exercises of 
holy affections that are practical, and in their being practical ; in conquering the 
will, and conquering the lusts and corruptions of men, and carrying men on in 
the way of holiness, through all temptations, difficulty, and opposition. 

Again, the reason why gracious affections have their exercise and effect in 
Christian practice, appears from this (which has also been before observed), that 
* the first objective ground" of gracious affections, is the transcendently excellent 


and amiable nature of divine things, as they are in themselves, and not any con 
ceived relation they bear to self, or self-interest." This shows why holy affections, 
will cause men to be holy in their practice universally. What makes men partial 
in religion is, that they seek themselves, and not God, in their religion ; and close 
with religion, not for its own excellent nature, but only to serve a turn. He 
that closes with religion only to serve a turn, will close with no more of it than 
he imagines serves that turn ; but he that closes with religion for its own excellent 
and lovely nature, closes with all that has that nature : he that embraces religion 
for its own sake, embraces the whole of religion. This also shows why gracious 
affections will cause men to practise religion perseveringly, and at all times. 
Religion may alter greatly in process of time, as to its consistence with men s 
private interest, in many respects ; and therefore he that complies with it only 
for selfish views, is liable, in change of times, to forsake it ; but the excellent 
nature of religion, as it is in itself, is invariable ; it is always the same, at all 
times, and through all changes; it never alters in any respect. 

The reason why gracious affections issue in holy practice, also further ap 
pears from the kind of excellency of divine things, that it has been observed is 
the foundation of all holy affections, viz., " their moral excellency, or the beauty 
of their holiness." No wonder that a love to holiness, for holiness sake, inclines 
persons to practise holiness, and to practise every thing that is holy. Seeing 
holiness is the main thing that excites, draws, and governs all gracious affections, 
no wonder that all such affections tend to holiness. That which men love, they 
desire to have and to be united to, and possessed of. That beauty which men 
delight in, they desire to be adorned with. Those acts which men delight in, 
they necessarily incline to do. 

And what has been observed of that divine teaching and leading of the Spirit 
of God, which there is in gracious affections, shows the reason of this tendency of 
such affections to a universally holy practice. For, as has been observed, the 
Spirit of God in this his divine teaching and leading, gives the soul a natural 
relish of the sweetness of that which is holy, and oi every thing that is holy, 
so far as it comes in view and excites a disrelish and disgust of every thing 
that is unholy. 

The same also appears from what has been observed of the nature of that 
spiritual knowledge, which is the foundation of all holy affection, as consisting 
in a sense and view of that excellency in divine things, which is supreme and 
transcendent. For hereby these things appear above all others, worthy to be 
chosen and adhered to. By the sight of the transcendent glory o* Christ, true 
Christians see him worthy to be followed ; and so are powerfully drawn after 
him ; they see him worthy that they should forsake all for him : by the sight of 
that superlative amiableness, they are thoroughly disposed to be subject to him, 
and engaged to labor with earnestness and activity in his service, and made 
willing to go through all difficulties for his sake. And it is the discovery of 
this divine excellency of Christ, that makes them constant to him : for it makes 
a deep impression upon their minds, that they cannot forget him; and they 
will follow him whithersoever he goes, and it is in vain for any to endeavor to 
draw them away from him. 

The reason of this practical tendency and issue of gracious affections, furthei 
appears from what has been observed of such affections being " attended with a 
thorough conviction of the judgment of the reality and certainty of divine things." 
No wonder that they who were never thoroughly convinced that there is any 
reality in the things of religion, will never be at the labor and trouble of such 
an earnest, universal, and persevering practice of religion, through all difficulties, 


self-denials, and sufferings in a dependence on that, which they are not convin 
ced of. But on the other hand, they who are thoroughly convinced of the cer 
tain truth of those things, must needs be governed by them in their practice ; 
for the things revealed in the word of God are so great, and so infinitely more 
important than all other things, that it is inconsistent with the human nature, 
that a man should fully believe the truth of them, and not be influenced by them 
above all things in his practice. 

Ao-ain, the reason of this expression and effect of holy affections in the prac 
tice, appears from what has been observed of" a change of nature, accompany 
ing such affections." Without a change of nature, men s practice will not be 
thoroughly changed. Until the tree be made good, the fruit will not be good. 
Men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles. The swine may be 
washed, and appear clean for a little while, but yet, without a change of nature 
he will still wallow in the mire. Nature is a more powerful principle of action, 
than any thing that opposes it : though it may be violently restrained for a 
while, it will finally overcome that which restrains it : it is like the stream of a 
river, it may be stopped a while with a dam, but if nothing be done to dry the 
fountain, it will not be stopped always ; it will have a course, either in its old 
channel, or a new one. Nature is a thing more constant and permanent, than any 
of those things that are the foundation of carnal men s reformation and righteous 
ness. When a natural man denies his lust, and lives a strict, religious life, and 
seems humble, painful, and earnest in religion, it is not natural ; it is all a force 
against nature ; as when a stone is violently thrown upwards ; but that force 
will be gradually spent ; yet nature will remain in its full strength, and so pre 
vails again, and the stone returns downwards. As long as corrupt nature is 
not mortified, but the principle left whole in a man, it is a vain thing to expect 
that it should not govern. But if the old nature be indeed mortified, and a new 
and heavenly nature infused, then may it well be expected, tjiat men will 
walk in newness of life, and continue to do so to the end of their days. 

The reason of this practical exercise and effect of holy affections, may also 
be partly seen, from what has been said of that spirit of humility which attends 
them. Humility is that wherein a spirit of obedience does much consist. A 
proud spirit is a rebellious spirit, but a humble spirit is a yieldable, subject, obe- 
diential spirit. We see among men, that the servant who is of a haughty spirit 
is not apt in every thing to be submissive and obedient to the will of his master ; 
but it is otherwise with that servant who is of a lowly spirit. 

And that lamblike, dovelike spirit, that has been spoken of, which accom 
panies all o-racious affections, fulfils (as the apostle observes, Rom. xiii. 8, 9, 10, 
and Gal. v. 14) all the duties of the second table of the law ; wherein Chris 
tian practice does very much consist, and wherein the external practice of 
Christianity chiefly consists. 

And the reason why gracious affections are attended with that strict, univer 
sal and constant obedience which has been spoken of, further appears, from 
what has been observed of that tenderness of spirit, which accompanies the af 
fections of true saints, causing in them so quick and lively a sense of pain through 
the presence of moral evil, and such a dread of the appearance of evil. 

And one great reason why the Christian practice which flows from gracious 
affections, is universal, and constant, and persevering, appears from what has 
been observed of those affections themselves, from whence this practice flows, 
being universal and constant, in all kinds of holy exercises, and towards all 
objects, and in all circumstances, and at all seasons in a beautiful symmetry and 


And much of the reason why holy affections are expressed and manifested in 
such an earnestness, activity, and engagedness and perseverance in holy prac 
tice, as has been spoken of, appears from what has been observed, of the spiritual 
appetite and longing after further attainments in religion, which evermore attends 
true affection, and does not decay, but increases as those affections increase. 

Thus we see how the tendency of holy affections to such a Christian practice 
as has been explained, appears from each of those characteristics of holy affec 
tion that have been before spoken of. 

And this point may be further illustrated and confirmed, if it be considered, 
that the holy Scriptures do abundantly place sincerity and soundness in religion, 
in making a full choice of God as our only Lord and portion, forsaking all for 
him, and in a full determination of the will for God and Christ, on counting the 
cost ; in our heart s closing and complying with the religion of Jesus Christ, 
with all that belongs to it, embracing it with all its difficulties, as it were hating 
our dearest earthly enjoyments, and even our own lives, for Christ j giving up 
ourselves, with all (hat we have, wholly and for ever, unto Christ, without 
keeping back any thing, or making any reserve ; or, in one word, in the great 
duty of self-denial for Christ; or in denying, i. e., as it were, disowning and 
renouncing ourselves for him, making ourselves nothing that he may be all. 
See the texts to this purpose referred to in the margin.* Now surely having a 
heart to forsake all for Christ, tends to actually forsaking all for him, so far as 
there is occasion, and we have the trial. A having a heart to deny ourselves 
for Christ, tends to a denying ourselves indeed, when Christ and self-interest 
stand in competition. A giving up of ourselves, with all that we have, in 
our hearts, without making any reserve there, tends to our behaving ourselves 
universally as his, as subject to his will, and devoted to his ends. Our heart s 
entirely closing \vith the religion of Jesus, with all that belongs to it, and as 
attended with all its difficulties, upon a deliberate counting the cost, tends to a 
universal closing with the same in act and deed, and actually going through all 
the difficulties that we meet with in the way of religion, and so holding out with 
patience and perseverance. 

The tendency of grace in the heart to holy practice, is very direct, and the 
connection most natural, close, and necessary. True grace is not an unactive 
thing ; there is nothing in heaven or earth of a more active nature; for it is life 
itself, and the most active kind of life, even spiritual and divine life. It is no 
barren thing ; there is nothing in the universe that in its nature has a greater 
tendency to fruit. Godliness in the heart has as direct a relation to practice, as 
a fountain has to a stream, or- as the luminous nature of the sun has to beams 
sent forth, or as life has to breathing, or the beating of the pulse, or any other 
vital act ; or as a habit or principle of action has to action ; for it is the very 
nature and notion of grace, that it is a principle of holy action or practice. 
Regeneration, which is that work of God in which grace is infused, has a di 
rect relation to practice ; for it is the very end of it, with a view to which the 
whole work is wrought; all is calculated and framed, in this mighty and man 
ifold change wrought in the soul, so as directly to,tend to this end. Eph. ii. 10, 
" For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." Yea, 
it is the very end of the redemption of Christ : Tit. ii. 14, " Who gave himself 
for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a 

* Matt. v. 29, 30 ; chap. vi. 24 ; chap. viii. 1922 ; chap. iv. 18, to 22 ; chap. x. 37, 38, 39 ; chap. xiii. 
44, 45, 46 ; chap. xvi. 24, 25, 26 ; chap, xviii. 8, 9 ; chap. xix. 21, 27, 28, 29 ; Luke v. 27, 28 ; chap. x. 42 ; 
chap. xii. 33, 34; chap. xiv. 1620,2533; chap. xvi. 13; Acts iv. 34,35, with chap v. 1 11 ; Rom. 
vi. 38 ; Gal. ii. 20 ; chap. vi. 14 ; Philip, iii. 7. 


peculiar people, zealous of good works." Eph. i. 4, " According as he hath chosen 
us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and with 
out blame before him in love." Chap. ii. 10, " Created unto good works, which 
God hath foreordained that we should walk in them." Holy practice is as 
much the end of all that God does about his saints, as fruit is the end of all the 
husbandman does about the growth of his field or vineyard ; as the matter is 
often represented in Scripture, Matt. iii. 10, chapter xiii. 8, 23, 30, 38, chapter 
xxi. 19, 33, 34, Luke xiii. 6, John xv. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 1 Cor. iii. 9, Heb. vi. 7, 
8, Isa. v. 1 8, Cant. viii. 11, 12, Isa. xxvii. 2, 3.* And therefore every thing 
in a true Christian is calculated to reach this end. This fruit of holy practice 
is what every grace, and every discovery, and every individual thing which be 
longs to Christian experience, has a direct tendency to. 

The constant and indissoluble connection that there is between a Christian 
principle and profession in the true saints, and the fruit of holy practice in their 
lives, was typified of old in the frame of the golden candlestick in the temple. 
It is beyond doubt that that golden candlestick, with its seven branches and 
seven lamps, was a type of the church of Christ. The Holy Ghost himself has 
been pleased to put that matter out of doubt, by representing his church by such 
a golden candlestick, with seven lamps, in the fourth chapter of Zechariah, nnd 
representing the seven churches of Asia by seven golden candlesticks, in the first 
chapter of the Revelation. That golden candlestick in the temple was every 
where, throughout its whole frame, made with knops and flowers : Exod. xxr. 
31, to the end, and chapter xxxvii. 17 24. The word translated knop, in the 
original, signifies apple or pomegranate. There w y as a knop and a flower, a 
knop and a flower : wherever there was a flower, there was an apple or pom 
egranate with it : the flower and the fruit were constantly connected, with 
out fail. The fknver contained the principle of the fruit, and a beautiful pro 
mising appearance of it ; and it never was a deceitful appearance ; the principle 
or show of fruit, had evermore real fruit attending it, or succeeding it. So it is 
in the church of Christ : there is the principle of fruit in grace in the heart; 
and there is an amiable profession, signified by the open flowers of the candle 
stick ; and there is answerable fruit, in holy practice, constantly attending this 
principle and profession. Every branch of the golden candlestick, thus com 
posed of golden apples and flowers, was crowned with a burning, shining lamp 
on the top of it. For it is by this means that the saints shine as lights in the 
world, by making a fair and good profession of religion, and having their pro 
fession evermore joined with answerable fruit in practice : agreeable to that of 
our Saviour, Matt. v. 15, 16, " Neither do men light a candle, and put it under 
a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and 
glorify your Father which is in heaven." A fair and beautiful profession, and 
golden fruits accompanying one another, are the amiable ornaments of the true 
church of Christ. Therefore we find that apples and flowers were not only the 
ornaments of the candlestick in the temple, but of the temple itself, which is a 
type of the church ; which the apostle tells us " is the temple of the living God." 
See 1 Kings vi. 18 : " And the cedar of the house within was carved with 

* " To profess to know much, is easy ; but to bring your affections into subjection, to wrestle 
with lusts, to cross your wills and yourselves, upon every occasion, this is hard. The Lord looketh that 
in our lives we should be serviceable to him, and useful to men. That which is within, the Lord and our 
Drethren are never the better for it : but the outward obedience, flowing thence, glorifieth God, and does 
good to men. The Lord will have this done. What else is the end of our planting and watering, but 
that the trees may be filled with sap ? And what is the end of that sap, but that the trees may bring forth 
fruit ? What careth the husbandman for leave? and barren trees ?" Dr. Preston of the Church s Carriage, 


Knops, and open flowers." The ornaments and crown of the pillars, at the 
entrance of the temple, were of the same sort : they were lilies and pomegran 
ates, or flowers and fruits mixed together, 1 Kings vii. 18, ]9. So it is with all 
those that are " as pillars in the temple of God, who shall go no more out," or 
never be ejected as intruders ; as it is with all true saints : Rev. iii. 12, " Him 
that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go 
no more out." 

Much the same thing seems to be signified by the ornaments on the skirt of 
the ephod, the garment of Aaron, the high priest ; which were golden bells and 
pomegranates. That these skirts of Aaron s garment represent the church, or 
the saints (that are as it were the garment of Christ), is manifest ; for they are 
evidently so spoken of, Psal. cxxxiii. 1,2: " Behold, how good and how pleas 
ant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity ! It is like the precious ointment 
upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron s beard, that went 
down to the skirts of his garments." That ephod of Aaron signified the same 
with the seamless coat of Christ our great High Priest. As Christ s coat had 
no seam, but was woven from the top throughout, so it was with the ephod, 
Exod. xxix. 22. As God took care in his providence, that Christ s coat should 
not be rent ; so God took special care that the ephod should not be rent, Exod. 
xxviii. 32, and chap, xxxix. 23. The golden bells on this ephod, by their pre 
cious matter and pleasant sound, do well represent the good profession that the 
saints make ; and the pomegranates, the fruit they bring forth. And as in the 
hem of the ephod, bells and pomegranates were constantly connected, as is once 
and again observed, there was a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell 
and a pomegranate, Exod. xxviii. 34, and chap, xxxix. 26, so it is in the true 
saints ; their good profession and their good fruit, do constantly accompany one 
another : the fruit they bring forth in life, evermore answers the pleasant sound 
of their profession. 

Again, the very same thing is represented by Christ, in his description of 
his spouse, Cant. vii. 2 : " Thy belly is like a heap of wheat, set about with 
lilies." Here again are beautiful flowers, and good fruit, accompanying one 
another. The lilies were fair and beautiful flowers, and the wheat was good 

As this fruit of Christian practice is evermore found in true saints, according 
as they have opportunity and trial, so it is found in them only ; none but true 
Christians do live such an obedient life, so universally devoted to their duty, and 

tiven up to the business of a Christian, as has been explained. All unsancti- 
ed men are workers of iniquity : they are of their father the devil, and the lusts 
of their father they will do. There is no hypocrite that will go through with the 
business of religion, and both begin and finish the tour : they will not endure 
the trials God is wont to bring on the professors of religion, but will turn aside 
to their crooked w T ays : they will not be thoroughly faithful to Christ in their 
practice, and follow him whithersoever he goes. Whatever lengths they may 
go in religion in some instances, and though they may appear exceeding strict, 
and mightily engaged in the service of God for a season ; yet they are servants 
to sin ; the chains of their old taskmasters are not broken : their lusts have yet 
a reigning power in their hearts; and therefore to these masters they will bow 
down again.* Daniel xii. 10, " Many shall be purified and made white, and 

* " No unregenerate man, though he go never so far, let him do never so much, but he lives in some 
one sin or other, secret or open, little or great. Judas went far, but he was covetous ; Herod went far. but 
he loved his Herodias. Every dog hatlf his kennel ; every swine hath his swill ; and every wicked man 
his lust." Shepard s Sincere Convert, 1st edition, p. 96. 


tried : but the wicked will do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall under 
stand." Isa. xxvi. 10, " Let favor be showed to the wicked, yet will he not 
learn righteousness ; in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly." Isa. 
xxxv. 8, u And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the 
way of holiness ; the unclean shall not pass over it. Hos. xiv. 9, " The ways 
of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them : but the transgressors shall 
fall therein." Job. xxvii. 8, 9, 10, " What is the hope of the hypocrite ? Will 
he delight himself in the Almighty ? Will he always call upon God ?" An 
unsanctified man may hide his sin, and may in many things, and for a season re 
frain from sin ; but he will not be brought finally to renounce his sin, and give 
it a bill of divorce ; sin is too dear to him, for him to be willing for that : 
" Wickedness is sweet in his mouth ; and therefore he hides it under his tongue ; 
he spares it, and forsakes it not ; but keeps it still within his mouth," Job xx. 
12, 13. Herein chiefly consists the straitness of the gate, and the narrowness of 
the way that leads to life ; upon the account of which, carnal men will not go 
in thereat, viz., that it is a way of utterly denying and finally renouncing all 
ungodliness, and so a way of self-denial or self-renunciation. 

Many natural men, under the means that are used with them, and God s 
strivings with them to bring them to forsake their sins, do by their sins as Pha- 
::aoh did by his pride and covetousness, which he gratified by keeping the chil 
dren of Israel in bondage, when God strove with him, to bring him to let the 
people go. When God s hand pressed Pharaoh sore, and he was exercised with 
fears of God s future wrath, he entertains some thoughts of letting the people 
go, and promised. he would do it; but from time to time he broke his promises, 
when he saw there was respite. When God filled Egypt with thunder and 
lightning, and the fire ran along the ground, then Pharaoh is brought to confess 
his sin with seeming humility, and to have a great resolution to let the people 
go. Exod. ix. 27, 28, " And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, 
and said unto them, I have sinned this time : the Lord is righteous, and 1 and 
my people are wicked : entreat the Lord (for it is enough) that there be no more 
mighty thunderings and hail ; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer. " 
So sinners are sometimes, by thunders and lightnings and great terrors of the 
law, brought to a seeming work of humiliation, and to appearance to part with 
their sins ; but are no more thoroughly brought to a disposition to dismiss them, 
than Pharaoh was to let the people go. Pharaoh, in the struggle that was be 
tween his conscience and his lusts, was for contriving that God might be served, 
and he enjoy his lusts that were gratified by the slavery of the people. Moses 
insisted that Israel s God should be served and sacrificed to : Pharaoh was will 
ing to consent to that ; but would have it done without his parting with the 
people : " Go sacrifice to your God in the land," says he, Exod. viii. 25. So, 
many sinners are for contriving to serve God, and enjoy their lusts too. Moses 
objected against complying with Pharaoh s proposal, that serving God, and yet 
continuing in Egypt under their taskmasters, did not agree together, and were 
inconsistent one with another (there is no serving God, and continuing slaves 
to such enemies of God at the same time). After this Pharaoh consented to let 
the people go, provided they would not go far away : he was not willing to part 
with them finally, and therefore would have them within reach. So do many 
hypocrites with respect to their sins. Afterwards Pharaoh consented to let the. 
men go, if they would leave the women and children, Exod. x. 8, 9, 10 And 
then after that, when God s hand was yet harder upon him, he consented that 
they should go, even women and children, as well as men, provided they would 
leave their cattle behind ! But he was not willing to let them go, and all that 


they had, Exod. x. 24. So it oftentimes is with sinners ; they are willing to 
part with some of their sins, but not all ; they are brought to part with the 
more gross acts of sin, but not to part with their lusts, in lesser indulgencies of 
them. Whereas we must part with all our sins, little and great ; and all that 
belongs to them, men, women, children, and cattle ; they must be let go, with 
" their young, and with their old, with their sons, and with their daughters, with 
their flocks, and with their herds, there must not be a hoof left behind ;" as 
Moses told Pharaoh, with respect to the children of Israel. At last, when it 
came to extremity, Pharaoh consented to let the people all go, and all that they 
had ; but he was not steadfastly of that mind, he soon repented and pursued after 
them again, and the reason was, that those lusts of pride and covetousness, that 
were gratified by Pharaoh s dominion over the people, and the gains of their 
service, were never really mortified in him, but only violently restrained. And 
thus, being guilty of backsliding, after his seeming compliance with God s com 
mands, he was ^destroyed without remedy. Thus there may be a forced parting 
with ways of disobedience to the commands of God, that may seem to be uni 
versal, as to what appears for a little season; but because it is a mere force, 
without the mortification of the inward principle of sin, they will not persevere 
in it ; but will return as the dog to his vomit ; and so bring on themselves 
dreadful and remediless destruction. There were many false disciples in Christ s 
time, that followed him for a while ; but none of them followed him to the end ; 
but some on one occasion, and some on another, went back and walked no more 
with him.* 

From what has been said, it is manifest, that Christian practice, or a holy 
life, is a great and distinguishing sign of true and saving grace. But I may go 
farther, and assert, that it is the chief of all the signs of grace, both as an evi 
dence of the sincerity of professors unto others, and also to their own con 

But then it is necessary that this be rightly taken, and that it be well un 
derstood and observed, in what sense and manner Christian practice is the great 
est sign of grace. Therefore to set this matter in a clear light, I will endeavor 
particularly and distinctly to prove, that Christian practice is the principal sign 
by which Christians are to judge, both of their own and others sincerity of god 
liness ; withal observing some things that are needful to be particularly noted, 
in order to a right understanding of this matter. 

1. I shall consider Christian practice and holy life, as a manifestation 
and sign of the sincerity of a professing Christian, to the eye of his neighbors 
and brethren. 

And that this is the chief sign of grace in this respect, is very evident from 
the word of God. Christ, who knew best how to give us rules to judge of others, 
has repeated it and inculcated it, that we should know them by their fruits : 
Matt. vii. 16, " Ye shall know them by their fruits." And then, after argu 
ing the point, and giving clear reasons why it must needs be, that men s fruits 

* " The counterfeit and common grace of foolish virgins, after some time of glorious profession, will 
certainly go out and be quite spent. It consumes in the using, and shining, and burning. Men that have 
been most forward, decay : their gifts decay, life decays. It is so, after some time of profession : for 
at first, it rather grows than decays and withers ; but afterwards they have enough of it, it withers and 
dies. The Spirit of God comes upon many hypocrites, in abundant and plentiful measure of awaken 
ing grace : it comes upon them, as it did upon Balaam, and as it is in overflowing waters, which spread 
far, and grow very deep, and fill many empty places. Though it doth come upon them so, yet it doth 
never rest within, so as to dwell there, to take up an eternal mansion for himself. Hence it doth decay 
by little and little, until at last it is quite gone. As ponds filled with rain water, which comes upon them ; 
not spring water, that riseth up within them ; it dries up by little and little, until quite dry." Shefard s 
Parable, Part II. p. 58, 59. 

VOL. III. 25 


must be the chief evidence of what sort they are, in the following verses, he 
closes by repeating the assertion, verse 20, " Wherefore by their fruits ye shall 
know them." Again, chap. xii. 33, " Either make the tree good, and his fruit 
good ; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt." As much as to 
say, it is a very absurd thing, for any to suppose that the tree is good and yet 
the fruit bad, that the tree is of one sort, and the fruit of another ; for the pro 
per evidence of the nature of the tree is its fruit. Nothing else can be intended 
by that last clause in the verse, " For the tree is known by its fruit," than that 
the tree is chiefly known by its fruit, that this is the main and most proper diag 
nostic by which one tree is distinguished from another. So Luke vi. 44, 
" Every tree is known by his own fruit. Christ nowhere says, Ye shall know 
the tree by its leaves or flowers, or ye shall know men by their talk, or ye shall 
know them by the good story they tell of their experiences, or ye shall know 
them by the manner and air of their speaking, and emphasis and pathos of ex 
pression, or by their speaking feelingly, or by making a very great show by 
abundance of talk, or by many tears and affectionate expressions, or by the af 
fections ye feel in your hearts towards them ; but by their fruits shall ye know 
them ; the tree is known by its fruit ; every tree is known by its own fruit. 
And as this is the evidence that Christ has directed us mainly to look at in 
others, in judging of them, so it is the evidence that Christ has mainly directed 
us to give to others, whereby they may judge of us : Matt. v. 16, " Let your 
light so shine before men, that others seeing your good works, may glorify your 
Father which is in heaven." Here Christ directs us to manifest our godliness 
to others. Godliness is as it were a light that shines in the soul. Christ directs 
that this light not only shine within, but that it should shine out before men. that 
they may see it. But which way shall this be ? It is by our good works. 
Christ doth not say, that others hearing your good works, your good story, or 
your pathetical expressions ; but " that others, seeing your good works, may 
glorify your Father which is in heaven." Doubtless, when Christ gives us a 
rule how to make our light shine, that others may have evidence of it, his rule 
is the best that is to be found. And the apostles do mention Christian practice 
as the principal ground of their esteem of persons as true Christians. As the 
Apostle Paul, in the 6th chapter of Hebrews. There the apostle, in the begin 
ning of the chapter, speaks of them that have great common illuminations, that 
have " been enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made 
partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the 
powers of the world to come, that afterwards fall away, and are like barren 
ground, that is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned ;" and then imme 
diately adds in the 9th verse (expressing his charity for the Christian Hebrews, 
as having that saving grace, which is better then all these common illumina 
tions) , " but beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that ac 
company salvation, though we thus speak." And then, in the next verse, he 
tells them what was the reason he had such good thoughts of them : he does not 
say, that it was because they had given him a good account of a work of God 
upon their souls, and talked very experimentally ; but it was their work and 
labor of love ; " for God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and labor of 
love, which ye have showed towards his name, in that ye have ministered to 
the saints, and do minister." And the same apostle speaks of a faithful serv 
ing of God in practice, as the proper proof to others of men s loving Christ 
above ail, and preferring his honor to their private interest : Phil. ii. 21, 22, 
" For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ s ; but ye know 
the proof of him, *hat as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the 


gospel." So the Apostle John expresses the same, as the ground of his good 
opinion of Gaius, 3 John 3 6, " For I rejoiced greatly when the brethren 
came and testified of the truth that is in thee." But how did the brethren tes 
tify of the truth that was in Gaius ? And how did the apostle judge of the 
truth that was in him 1 It was not because they testified that he had given them 
a good account of the steps of his experiences, and talked like one that felt 
what he said, and had the very language of a Christian but they testified 
that he walked in the truth ; as it follows, " even as thou walkest in the truth. 
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth. Belov 
ed, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren and to strangers ; 
which have borne witness of thy charity .before the church." Thus the apostle 
explains what the brethren had borne witness of, when they came and testified 
of his walking in the truth. And the apostle seems in this same place, to give 
it as a rule to Gaius how he should judge of others ; in verse 10, he mentions 
one Diotrephes, that did not carry himself well, and led away others after him ; 
and then in the llth verse, he directs Gaius to beware of such, and not to follow 
them ; and gives him a rule whereby he may know them, exactly agreeable to 
that rule Christ had given before, " by their fruits ye shall know them ;" says 
the apostle, " beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. 
He that doeth good, is of God ; but he thatdoeth evil hath not seen God." And 
I would further observe, that the Apostle James, expressly comparing that way 
of showing others our faith and Christianity by our practice or works, with 
other ways of showing our faith without works, or not by works, does plainly 
and abundantly prefer the former : James ii. 18, " Yea, a man may say, Thou 
hast faith, and I have works ; show me thy faith without thy works, and I will 
show thee my faith by my works." A manifestation of our faith without 
works, or in a way diverse from works, is a manifestation of it in words, where 
by a man professes faith. As the apostle says, verse 14, " What doth it profit, 
my brethren, though a man say he hath faith ?" Therefore here are two ways 
of manifesting to our neighbor what is in our hearts ; one by what we say, and 
the other by what we do. But the apostle abundantly prefers the latter as the 
best evidence. Now certainly all accounts we give of ourselves in words, cur 
saying that we have faith, and that we are converted, and telling the manner 
how we came to have faith, and the steps by which it was wrought, and the 
discoveries and experiences that accompany it, are still but manifesting our faith 
by what we say ; it is but showing our faith by our words ; which the apostle 
speaks of as falling vastly short of manifesting of it by what we do, and show 
ing our faith by our works. 

And as the Scripture plainly teaches, that practice is the best evidence 
of the sincerity of professing Christians ; so reason teaches the same thing. 
Reason shows, that men s deeds are better and more faithful interpreters of their 
minds, than their words. The common sense of all mankind, through all ages 
and nations, teaches them to judge of men s hearts chiefly by their practice, in 
other matters ; as, Avhether a man be a loyal subject, a true lover, a dutiful child , 
or a faithful servant. If a man profess a great deal of love and friendship to 
another, reason teaches all men, that such a profession is not so great an evi 
dence of his being a real and hearty friend, as his appearing a friand in deeds j 
being faithful and constant to his friend in prosperity and adversity, ready to lay 
out himself, and deny himself, and suffer in his personal interest, to do him a 
kindness. A wise man will trust to such evidences of the sincerity of friend 
ship, further than a thousand earnest professions and solemn declarations, and 
most affectionate expressions of friendship in words. And there is equal reason 


why practice should also be looked upon as the best evidence of friendship to 
wards Christ. Reason says the same that Christ said, in John xiv. 21, " He 
that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." Thus 
if we see a man, who in the course of his life seems to follow and imitate Christ, 
and greatly to exert and deny himself for the honor of Christ, and to pro 
mote his kingdom and interest in the world ; reason teaches, that this is an evi 
dence of love to Christ, more to be depended on, than if a man only says he has 
love to Christ, and tells of the inward experiences he has had of love to him, what 
strong love he felt, and how his heart was drawn out in love at such and such a 
time, when it may be there appears but little imitation of Christ in his behavior, 
and he seems backward to do any great matter for him, or to put himself out of 
his way for the promoting of his kingdom, but seems to be apt to excuse himself 
whenever he is called to deny himself for Christ. So if a man, in declaring his 
experiences, tells how he found his heart weaned from the world, and saw the van 
ity of it, so that all looked as nothing to him, at such and such times, and professes 
that he gives up all to God, and calls heaven and earth to witness to it ; but yet in 
his practice is violent in pursuing the world, and what he gets he keeps close, is 
exceeding loth to part with much of it to charitable and pious uses, it comes from 
him almost like his heart s blood. But there is another professing Christian, that 
says not a great deal, yet in his behavior appears ready at all times to forsake the 
world, whenever it stands in the way of his duty, and is free to part with it at any 
time to promote religion and the good of his fellow creatures. Reason teaches, 
that the latter gives far the most credible manifestation of a heart weaned from the 
world. And if a man appears to walk humbly before God and men, and to be 
of a conversation that savors of a broken heart, appearing patient and resigned to 
God under affliction, and meek in his behavior amongst men ; this is a better 
evidence of humiliation, than if a person only tells how great a sense he had of 
his own un worthiness, how he was brought to lie in the dust, and was quite 
emptied of himself, and saw himself nothing and all over filthy and abominable, 
&c. &c., but yet acts as if he looked upon himself one of the first and best of 
saints, and by just right the head of all the Christians in the town, and is assum 
ing, self-willed, and impatient of the least contradiction or opposition ; we may be 
assured in such a case, that a man s practice comes from a lower place in his heart 
than his profession. So (to mention no more instances) if a professor of Chris 
tianity manifests in his behavior a pitiful tender spirit towards others in calamity, 
ready to bear their burdens with them, willing to spend his substance for them, 
and to suffer many inconveniences in his worldly interest to promote the good of 
others souls and bodies ; is not this a more credible manifestation of a spirit of 
love to men, than only a man s telling what love he felt to others at certain times, 
how he pitied their souls, how his soul was in travail for them, and how he felt 
hearty love and pity to his enemies ; when in his behavior he seems to be of a 
very selfish spirit, close and niggardly, all for himself, and none for his neighbors, 
and perhaps envious and contentious ? Persons in a pang of affection may 
think they have a willingness of heart for great things, to do much and to suffer 
much, and so may profess it very earnestly and confidently, when really their 
hearts are far from it. Thus many in their affectionate pangs, have thought 
themselves willing to be damned eternally for the glory of God. Passing affec 
tions easily produce words ; and words are cheap ; and godliness is more easily 
feigned in words than in actions. Christian practice is a costly, laborious thing. 
The self-denial that is required of Christians, and the narrowness of the way that 
leads to life, does not consist in words, but in practice. Hypocrites may much 
more easily be brought to talk like saints, than to act like saints. 


Thus it is plain, that Christian practice is the best sign or manifestation 
of the true godliness of a professing Christian, to the eye of his neighbors. 

But then the following things should be well observed, that this matter may 
be rightly understood. 

First, it must be observed, that when the Scripture speaks of Christian prac 
tice, as the best evidence to others, of sincerity and truth of grace, a profes 
sion of Christianity is not excluded, but supposed. The rules mentioned, were 
rules given to the followers of Christ, to guide them in their thoughts of profess 
ing Christians, and those that offered themselves as some of their society, whereby 
they might judge of the truth of their pretences, and the sincerity of the pro 
fession they made ; and not for the trial of Heathens, or those that made no 
pretence to Christianity, and that Christians had nothing to do with. This is 
as plain as is possible in that great rule which Christ gives in the 7th of Mat 
thew, " By their fruits ye shall know them." He there gives a rule how to 
judge of those that professed to be Christians, yea, that made a very high profes 
sion, false prophets, " who came in sheep s clothing," as ver. 15. So it is also 
with that of the Apostle James, chap ii. 18, " Show me thy faith without thy 
works, and I will show thee my faith by my works." It is evident, that both 
these sorts of persons, offering to give these diverse evidences of their faith, are 
professors of faith : this is implied in their offering each of them to give evi 
dences of the faith they professed. And it is evident by the preceding verses, 
that the apostle is speaking of professors of faith in Jesus Christ. So it is very 
plain, that the Apostle John, in those passages that have been observed in his 
*hird epistle, is speaking of professing Christians. Though in these rules, the 
Christian practice of professors be spoken of as the greatest and most distinguish 
ing sign of their sincerity in their profession, much more evidential than their 
orofession itself ; yet a profession of Christianity is plainly presupposed: it is 
not the main^thing in the evidence, nor any thing distinguishing in it ; yet it is 
a thing requisite and necessary in it. As the having an animal body, is not any 
thing distinguishing of a man, from other creatures, and is not the main thing in 
the evidence of human nature, yet it is a thing requisite and necessary in the 
evidence. So that if any man should say plainly that he was not a Christian, and 
did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, or a person sent of God ; these 
rules of Christ and his apostles do not at all oblige us to look upon him as a 
sincere Christian, let his visible practice and virtues be what they will. And 
not only do these rules take no place with respect to a man that explicitly denies 
Christianity, and is a professed Deist, Jew, Heathen, or open Infidel ; but also 
with respect to a man that only forbears to make a profession of Christianity; 
because these rules were given us to to judge of professing Christians only : 
fruits must be joined with open flowers ; bells and pomegranates go together. 

But here will naturally arise this inquiry, viz., When may a man be said to 
profess Christianity, or what profession may properly be called a profession of 
Christianity ? 

I answer, in two things. 

1. In order to a man s being properly said to make a profession of Christi 
anity, there must undoubtedly be a profession of all that is necessary to his 
being a Christian, or of so much as belongs to the essence of Christianity. 
Whatsoever is essential in Christianity itself, the profession of that is essential 
in the profession of Christianity. The profession must be of the thing profess 
ed. For a man to profess Christianity, is for him to declare that he has it. 
And therefore so much as belongs to a thing, so as to be necessary in order to 
its being truly denominated that thing ; so much is essential to the declaration 


of that thing, in order to its being truly denominated a declaration of that thing. 
If we take only a part of Christianity, and leave out a part that is essential tc 
it, what we take is not Christianity ; because something that is of the essence 
of it is wanting. So if we profess only a part, and leave out a part that is 
essential, that which we profess is not Christianity. Thus, in order to a profes 
sion of Christianity, we must profess that we believe that Jesus is the Messiah ; 
for this reason, because such a belief is essential to Christianity. And so we 
must profess, either expressly or implicitly, that Jesus satisfied for our sins, and 
other essential doctrines of the gospel, because a belief of these things also is 
essential to Christianity. But there are other things as essential to religion, as 
an orthodox belief; which it is therefore as necessary that we should profess, in 
order to our being truly said to profess Christianity. Thus it is essential to 
Christianity that we repent of our sins, that we be convinced of our own sinful- 
ness, and that we are sensible we have justly exposed ourselves to God s wrath, 
and that our hearts do renounce all sin, and that we do with our whole hearts 
embrace Christ as our only Saviour ; and that we love him above all, and are 
willing for his sake to forsake all, and that we do give up ourselves to be entirely 
and forever his, &c. Such things as these do as much belong to the essence of 
Christianity, as the belief of any of the doctrines of the gospel : and therefore 
the profession of them does as much belong to a Christian profession. Not that 
in order to a being professing Christians, it is necessary that there should be an 
explicit profession of every individual thing that belongs to Christian grace or 
rirtue : but certainly, there must be a profession, either express or implicit, of 
what is of the essence of religion. And as to those things that Christians should 
3xpress in their profession, we ought to be guided by the precepts of God s word, 
or by Scripture examples of public professions of religion, God s people have 
made from time to time. Thus they ought to profess their repentance of sin : 
as of old, when persons were initiated as professors, they came confessing their 
sins, manifesting their humiliation for sin, Matt. iii. 6. And the baptism they 
were baptized with, was called the baptism of repentance, Mark i. 4. And 
John, when he had baptized them, exhorted them to bring forth fruits meet for 
repentance, Matt. iii. 8, i. e., agreeable to that repentance which they had pro 
fessed ; encouraging them, that if they did so, they should escape the wrath to 
come, and be gathered as wheat into God s garner, Matt. iii. 7, 8, 9, 10, 12. 
So the Apostle Peter says to the Jews, Acts ii. 38, " Repent, and be baptized ;" 
which shows, that repentance is a qualification that must be visible in order to 
baptism ; and therefore ought to be publicly professed. So when the Jews that 
returned from captivity, entered publicly into covenant, it was with confession, 
or public confession of repentance of their sins, Neh. ix. 2. This profession of 
repentance should include or imply a profession of conviction, that God would 
be just in our damnation : see Neh. ix. 33, together with ver. 35, and the begin 
ning of the next chapter. They should profess their faith in Jesus Christ, and 
that they embrace Christ, and rely upon him as their Saviour, with their whole 
hearts, and that they do joyfully entertain the gospel of Christ. Thus Philip, 
in order to baptizing the eunuch, required that he should profess that he believed 
with all his heart : and they that were received as visible Christians, at that 
great outpouring of the Spirit, which began at the day of Pentecost, appeared 
gladly to receive the gospel: Acts ii. 41, "Then they that gladly received the 
word, were baptized ; and the same day there were added unto them about three 
thousand souls." They should profess that they rely on Christ s righteousness 
only, and strength ; and that they are devoted to him, as their only Lord and 
Saviour, and that they rejoice in him as their only righteousness and portion- 


It is foretold, that all nations shall be brought publicly to make this profession, 
Isa. xlv. 22, to the end : " Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the 
earth ; for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word 
is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me 
every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, In the 
Lord have I righteousness and strength ; even to him shall men come, and all 
that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seed 
of Israel be justified, and shall glory." They should profess to give up themselves 
entirely to Christ, and to God through him ; as the children of Israel, when they 
publicly recognised their covenant with God : Deut. xxvi. 17, " Thou hast 
avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep 
his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his 
voice." They ought to profess a willingness of heart to embrace religion with 
all its difficulties, and to walk in a way of obedience to God universally and 
perseveringly, Exod. xix. 8, and xxiv. 3, 7, Deut. xxvi. 16, 17, 18, 2 Kings 
xxiii. 3, Neh. x. 28, 29, Psal. cxix. 57, 106. They ought to profess, that 
all their hearts and souls are in these engagements to be the Lord s and forever 
to serve him, 2 Chron. xv. 12, 13, 14. God s people swearing to God, and 
swearing by his name, or to his name, as it might be rendered (by which seems 
to be signified their solemnly giving up themselves to him in covenant, and 
vowing to receive him as their God, and to be entirely his, to obey and serve 
him), is spoken of as a duty to be performed by all God s visible Israel, Deut. vi. 
13, and x. 20, Psal. Ixiii. 11, Isa. xix. 18, chap. xiv. 23, 24, compared with 
Rom. xiv. 11, and Phil. ii. 10, 11, Isa. xlviii. 1, 2, and Ixv. 15, 16, Jer. iv. 2, 
and v. 7, and xii. 16, Hos. iv. 15, and x. 4. Therefore, in order to persons 
being entitled to full esteem and chanty, with their neighbors, as being sincere 
professors of Christianity ; by those forementioned rules of Christ and his apos 
tles, there must be a visibly holy life, with a profession, either expressing, or 
plainly implying such things as those which have been now mentioned. We 
are to know them by their fruits, that is, we are by their fruits to know whether 
they be what they profess to be ; not that we are to know by their fruits, that 
they have something in them, they do not so much as pretend to. 

And moreover, 

2. That profession of these things, which is properly called a Christian pro 
fession, and which must be joined with Christian practice, in order to persons 
being entitled to the benefit of those rules, must be made (as to what appears) 
understandingly : that is, they must be persons that appear to have been so fai 
instructed in the principles of religion, as to be in an ordinary capacity to un 
derstand the proper import of what is expressed in their profession. For sound, 
are no significations or declarations of any thing, any further than men understanc 
the meaning of their own sounds. 

But in order to persons making a proper profession of Christianity, such ant 
the Scripture directs to and such as the followers of Christ should require, in 
order to the acceptance of the professors with full charity, as of their society ; it 
is not necessary they should give an account of the particular steps and 
method by which the Holy Spirit, sensibly to them, wrought and brought about 
those great essential things of Christianity in their hearts. There is no footstep in 
the Scripture of any such way of the apostles, or primitive ministers and Christians 
requiring any such relation, in order to their receiving and treating others as 
their Christian brethren, to all intents and purposes, or of their first examining 
them, concerning the particular method and order of their experiences. They 
required of them a profession of the things wrought ; but no account of the 


manner of working was required of them. Nor is there the least shadow in the 
Scripture of any such custom in the church of God from Adam to the death of 
the Apostle John. 

I am far from saying, that it is not requisite that persons should give any 
sort of account of their experiences to their brethren. For persons to profess 
those things wherein the essence of Christianity lies, is the same thing as to 
profess that they experience those things. Thus for persons solemnly to 
profess, that, in a full conviction of their own utter sinfulness, misery, and im 
potence, and totally undone state as in themselves, and their just desert of 
God s utter rejection and eternal wrath, and the utter insufficiency of their own 
righteousness, or any thing in them, to satisfy divine justice, or recommend 
them to God s favor, they do entirely depend on the Lord Jesus Christ, and his 
satisfaction and righteousness ; that they do with all their hearts believe the 
truth of the gospel of Christ ; and that in a full conviction of his sufficiency 
and perfect excellency as a Saviour, as exhibited in the gospel, they do with 
their whole souls cleave to him, and acquiesce in him, as the refuge and rest of 
their souls, and fountain of their comfort ; that they repent of their sins, and 
utterly renounce all sin, and give up themselves wholly to Christ, willingly 
subjecting themselves to him as their King ; that they give him their hearts 
and their whole man ; and are willing and resolved to have God for their 
whole and everlasting portion ; and in a dependence on his promises of a fu 
ture eternal enjoyment of him in heaven, to renounce all the enjoyments of this 
vain world, selling all for this great treasure and future inheritance, and to com 
ply with every command of God, even the most difficult and self-denying, and 
devote their whole lives to God s service ; and that in forgiveness of those that 
have injured them, and a general benevolence to mankind, their hearts are uni 
ted to the people of Jesus Christ as their people, to cleave to them and love 
them as their brethren, and worship and serve God, and follow Christ in union 
and fellowship with them, being willing and resolved to perform all those du 
ties that belong to them, as members of the same family of God and mystical 
body of Christ : I say, for persons solemnly to profess such things as these, as 
in the presence of God, is the same thing as to profess that they are conscious 
to, or do experience such things in their hearts. 

Nor is it what I suppose, that persons giving an account of their experience 
of particular exercises of grace, with the times and circumstances, gives no ad 
vantage to others in forming a judgment of their state ; or that persons may not 
fitly be inquired of concerning these in some cases, especially cases of great im 
portance, where all possible satisfaction concerning persons piety is especially 
to be desired and sought after, as in the case of ordination or approbation of a 
minister. It may give advantage in forming a judgment, in several respects ; 
and among others, in this, that hereby we may be better satisfied, that the pro 
fessor speaks honestly and understandingly, in what he professes ; and that he 
does not make the profession in mere formality. 

In order to a profession of Christianity being accepted to any purpose, there 
ought to be good reason, from the circumstances of the profession, to think, 
that the professor does not make such a profession out of a mere customary 
compliance with a prescribed form, using words without any distinct meaning, 
or in a very lax and ambiguous manner, as confessions of faith are often sub 
scribed ; but that the professor understandingly and honestly signifies what he 
is conscious of in his own heart ; otherwise his profession can be of no signifi 
cance, and no more to be regarded than the sound of things without life. But 
indeed (whatever advantage an account of particular exercises may give in 


judging of this) it must be owned, that the professor having been previously 
thoroughly instructed by his teachers, and given good proof of his sufficient 
knowledge, together with a practice agreeable to his profession, is the best 
evidence of this. 

Nor do I suppose, but that, if a person that is inquired of about particular 
passages, times, and circumstances of his Christian experience, among other 
things, seems to be able to give a distinct account of the manner of his first con 
version, in such a method as has been frequently observable in true conversion, 
so that things seem sensibly and distinctly to follow one another, in the order 
of time, according to the order of nature ; it is an illustrating circumstance, that 
among other things adds lustre to the evidence he gives his brethren of the 
truth of his experiences. 

But the thing that I speak of as unscriptural, is the insisting on a particular 
account of the distinct method and steps, wherein the Spirit of God did sensibly 
proceed, in first bringing the soul into a state of salvation, as a thing requisite 
in order to receiving a professor into full charity as a real Christian ; or so, as 
for the want of such relation, to disregard other things in the evidence persons 
give to their neighbors of their Christianity, that are vastly more important and 

Secondly, That we may rightly understand how Christian practice is the 
greatest evidence that others can have of the sincerity of a professing Christian, 
it is needful that what was said before, showing what Christian practice is, 
should be borne in mind ; and that it should be considered how far this may be 
visible to others. Merely that a professor of Christianity is what is commonly 
called an honest man, and a moral man (i. e., we have no special transgression 
or iniquity to charge him with, that might bring a blot on his character), is no 
great evidence of the sincerity of his profession. This is not making his light 
shine before men. This is not that work and labor of love showed towards 
Christ s name, which gave the apostle, such persuasion of the sincerity of the 
professing Hebrews, Heb. vi. 9, 10. It may be so, that we may see nothing in 
a man, but that he may be a good man ; there may appear nothing in his life 
and conversation inconsistent with his being godly, and yet neither may there 
be any great positive evidence that he is so. But there may be great positive 
appearance of holiness in men s visible behavior. Their life may appear to be 
a life of the service of God : they may appear to follow the example of Jesus 
Christ, and come up in a great measure to those excellent rules in the 5th, 6th, 
and 7th chapters of Matthew, and 12th of Romans, and many other parts of the 
New Testarm- it : there may be a great appearance of their being universal in 
their obedKrV e to Christ s commands and the rules of the gospel. They may 
appear to .> : universal in the performance of the duties of the first table, mani 
festing t>*c fear and love of God ; and also universal in fulfilling rules of love to 
men, Icy <-; to saints, and love to enemies: rules of meekness and forgiveness, 
rules of mercy and charity, and looking not only at our own things but also at 
the things of others ; rules of doing good to men s souls and bodies, to particu 
lar persons and to the public ; rules of temperance and mortification, and of a 
humble conversation ; rules of bridling the tongue, and improving it to glorify 
God and bless men, showing that in their tongues is the law of kindness. They 
may appear to walk as Christians, in all places, and at all seasons, in the house 
of God, and in their families, and among their neighbors, on Sabbath days and 
every day. in business and in conversation, towards friends and enemies, towards 
superiors, inferiors, and equals. Persons in their visible walk may appear to 
be very earnestly engaged in the service of God and mankind, much to labor 



and lay out themselves in this work of a Christian, and to be very constant and 
steadfast in it, under all circumstances and temptations. There may be great 
manifestations of a spirit to deny themselves, and suffer for God and Christ, and 
the interest of religion, and the benefit of their brethren. There may be great 
appearances in a man s walk, of a disposition to forsake any thing, rather than 
to forsake Christ, and to make every thing give place to his honor. There 
may be great manifestations in a man s behavior of such religion as this, being 
his element, and of his placing the delight and happiness of his life in it ; and 
his conversation may be such, that he may carry with him a sweet odor of 
Christian graces and heavenly dispositions, wherever he goes. And when it is 
thus in the professors of Christianity, here is an evidence to others of their sin 
cerity in their profession, to which all other manifestations are not worthy to 
be compared. 

There is doubtless a great variety in the degrees of evidence that professors 
do exhibit of their sincerity, in their life and practice ; as there is a variety in the 
fairness and clearness of accounts persons give of the manner and method of 
their experiences : but undoubtedly such a manifestation as has been described, 
of a Christian spirit in practice, i^ vastly beyond the fairest and brightest story 
of particular steps and passages of experience that ever was told. And in gen 
eral, a manifestation of the sincerity of a Christian profession in practice, is far 
better than a relation of experiences. But yet, 

Thirdly, It must be noted, agreeable to what was formerly observed, that 
no external manifestations and outward appearances whatsoever, that are visible 
to the world, are infallible evidences of grace. These manifestations that have 
oeen mentioned, are the best that mankind can have ; and they are such as do 
oblige Christians entirely to embrace professors as saints, and love them and 
rejoice in them as the children of God, and are sufficient to give them as great 
satisfaction concerning them, as ever is needful to guide them in their conduct, 
or for any purpose that needs to be answered in this world. But nothing that 
appears to them in their neighbor, can be sufficient to beget an absolute cer 
tainty concerning the state of his soul : for they see not his heart, nor can they 
see all his external behavior ; for much of it is in secret, and hid from the eye 
of the world ; and it is impossible certainly to determine how far a man may 
go in many external appearances and imitations of grace, from other principles. 
Though undoubtedly, if others could see so much of what belongs to men s 
practice, as their own consciences may see of it, it might be an infallible evi 
dence of their state, as will appear from what follows. 

Having thus considered Christian practice as the best evidence of the sin 
cerity of professors to others, I now proceed, 

2. To observe, that the Scripture also speaks of Christian practice as a dis 
tinguishing and sure evidence of grace to persons own consciences. This is 
very plain in 1 John ii. 3 : " Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep 
his commandments." And the testimony of our consciences, with respect to our 
good deeds, is spoken of as that which may give us assurance of our own god 
liness, 1 John iii. 18, 19 : " My little children, let us not love in word, neither 
in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the 
truth, and shall assure our hearts before him." And the Apostle Paul, in Heb. 
vi., speaks of the work and labor of love, of the Christian Hebrews, as that 
which both gave him a persuasion that they had something above the highest 
common illuminations, and also as that evidence which tended to give them the 
highest assurance of hope concerning themselves, verse 9, &c. : " But, beloved, 
we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, 


though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and 
labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have minis 
tered to his saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do 
show the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end." So the 
apostle directs the Galatians to examine their behavior or practice, that they 
might have rejoicing in themselves in their own happy state, Gal. vi. 4 : u Let 
every man prove his own work, so shall he have rejoicing in himself, and not 
in another." And the psalmist says, Psal. cxix. 6, " Then shall I not be asham 
ed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments;" i. e., then 1 shall be bold, 
and assured, and steadfast in my hope. And in that of our Saviour, Matt. vii. 19, 
20 : " Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into 
the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Though Christ gives 
this, firstly, as a rule by w r hich we should judge of others, yet in the words that 
next follow he plainly shows, that he intends it also as a rule by which we 
should judge ourselves : " Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall 
enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father 

which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, &c. 

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you : depart from me, ye that 
work iniquity. Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth 

them, I will liken him unto a wise man, w r hich built his house upon a rock. 

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be 
likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand." I shall have 
occasion to mention other texts to show the same thing, hereafter. 

But for the greater clearness in this matter, I would, first, show how Chris 
tian practice, doing good works, or keeping Christ s commandments, is to be 
taken, when the Scripture represents it as a sure sign to our ow r n consciences, 
that we are real Christians. And secondly, wall prove, that this is the chief of 
all evidences that men can have of their own sincere godliness. 

First, I would show how Christian practice, or keeping Christ s command 
ments, is to be taken, when the Scripture represents it as a sure evidence to our 
own consciences, that we are sincere Christians. 

And here I would observe, that we cannot reasonably suppose, that when 
the Scripture in this case speaks of good works, good fruit, and keeping Christ s 
commandments, it has respect merely to what "is external, or the motion and 
action of the body without including any thing else, having no respect to any 
aim or intention of the agent, or any act of his understanding or will. For con 
sider men s actions so, and they are no more good works or acts of obedience, 
than the regular motions of a clock ; nor are they considered as the actions of 
the man, nor any human actions at all. The actions of the body, taken thus, 
are neither acts of obedience nor disobedience, any more than the motions of the 
body in a convulsion. But the obedience and fruit that is spoken of, is the obe 
dience and fruit of the man ; and therefore not only the acts of the body, but 
the obedience of the soul, consisting in the acts and practice of the soul. Not 
that I suppose, that when the Scripture speaks, in this case, of gracious works, 
and fruit and practice, that in these expressions are included all inward piety 
and holiness of heart, both principle and exercise, both spirit and practice : be 
cause then, in these things being given as signs of a gracious principle in the 
heart, the same thing would be given as a sign of itself, and there would be no 
distinction between root and fruit. But only the gracious exercise, and holy 
act of the soul is meant, and given as the sign of the holy principle and good 
estate. Neither is every kind of inward exercise of grace meant ; but the prac 
tical exercise, that exercise of the soul, and exertion of inward holiness, which 


there is in an obediential act ; or that exertion of the mind, and act of grace, 
which issues and terminates in what they call the imperate acts of the will ; in 
which something is directed and commanded by the soul to be done, and brought 
to pass in practice. 

Here, for a clearer understanding, I would observe, that there are two kinds 
of exercises of grace. 1. There are those that some call immanent acts; that 
is, those exercises of grace that remain within the soul, that begin and are ter 
minated there, without any immediate relation to anything to be done outward 
ly, or to be brought to pass in practice. Such are the exercises of grace, which 
the saints often have in contemplation ; when the exercise that is in the heart, 
does not directly proceed to, or terminate in any thing beyond the thoughts of 
the mind ; however they may tend to practice (as as all exercises of grace do) 
more remotely. 2. There is another kind of acts of grace, that are more strict 
ly called practical, or effective exercises, because they immediately respect 
something to be done. They are the exertions of grace in the commanding 
acts of the will, directing the outward actions. As when a saint gives a cup of 
cold water to a disciple, in and from the exercise of the grace of charity ; or 
voluntarily endures persecution in the way of his duty ; immediately from the 
exercise of a supreme love to Christ. Here is the exertion of grace producing 
its effect in outward actions. These exercises of grace are practical and pro 
ductive of good works, not only in this sense, that they are of a productive na 
ture (for so are all exercises of true grace), but they are the producing acts. 
This is properly the exercise of grace in the act of the will ; and this is proper 
ly the practice of the soul. And the soul is the immediate actor of no other 
practice but this ; the motions of the body follow from the laws of union be 
tween the soul and body, which God, and not the soul, has fixed and does 
maintain. The act of the soul and the exercise of grace, that is exerted in the 
performance of a good work, is the good work itself, so far as the soul is con 
cerned in it, or so far as it is the soul s good work. The determinations of the 
will are indeed our very actions, so far as they are properly ours, as Dr. Dod- 
dridge observes.* In this practice of the soul is included the aim and intention 
of the soul, which is the agent. For not only should we not look on the mo 
tions of a statue, doing justice or distributing alms by clockwork, as any acts of 
obedience to Christ in that statue ; but neither would any body call the volun 
tary actions of a man, externally and materially agreeable to a command of 
Christ, by the name of obedience to Christ, if he had never heard of Christ, or 
any of his commands, or had no thought of his commands in what he did. If 
the acts of obedience and good fruit spoken of, be looked upon, not as mere 
motions of the bod} , but as acts of the soul ; the whole exercise of the spirit of 
the mind in the action must be taken in, with the end acted for, and the res 
pect the soul then has to God, &c., otherwise they are no acts of denial of our 
selves, or obedience to God, or service done to him, but something else. Such 
effective exercises of grace as these that I have now described, many of the 
Martyrs have experienced in a high degree. And all true saints live a life of 
such acts of grace as these ; as they all live a life of gracious works, of which 
these operative exertions of grace are the life and soul. And this is the obe 
dience and fruit that God mainly looks at, as he looks at the soul, more than 
the body ; as much as the soul, in the constitution of the human nature, is the 
superior part. As God looks at the obedience and practice of the man, he looks 
at the practice of the soul : for the soul is the man in God s sight, " for the 
Lord seeth not as man seeth, for he looketh on the heart." 

* Scripture Doctrine of Salvation, Sermon I. p. 11. 


And thus it is that obedience, good works, good fruits, are to be taken, when 
given in Scripture as a sure evidence to our own consciences of a true principle 
of grace : even as including the obedience and practice of the soul, as preceding 
and governing the actions of the body. When practice is given in Scripture as 
the main evidence to others of our true Christianity, then is meant that in our 
practice which is visible to them, even our outward actions : but when practice 
is given as a sure evidence of our real Christianity to our own consciences, then 
is meant that in our practice which is visible to our own consciences ; which is 
not only the motion of our bodies, but the exertion of the soul, which directs 
and commands that motion ; which is more directly and immediately under the 
view of our own consciences, than the act of the body. And that this is the 
intent of the Scripture, not only does the nature and reason of the thing show, 
but it is plain by the Scripture itself. Thus it is evident that when Christ, at the 
conclusion of his sermon on the mount, speaks of doing or practising those sayings 
of his, as the grand sign of professors being true disciples, without which he 
likens them to a man that built his house upon the sand, and with which, to a 
man that built his house upon a rock ; he has a respect, not only to the outward 
behavior, but to the inward exercise of the mind in that behavior : as is evident 
by observing what those preceding sayings of his are that he refers to, when he 
speaks of our doing or practising them ; and we shall find they are such as 
these : " Blessed are the poor in spirit ; blessed are they that mourn ; blessed 
are the meek ; blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness ; 
blessed are the merciful ; blessed are the pure in heart ; whosoever is angry 
with his brother without a cause, &c. ; whosoever looketh on a woman to lust 
after her, &c. ; love your enemies ; take no thought for your life," and others of 
the like nature, which imply inward exercises : and when Christ says, John 
xiv. 2, " He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that lov- 
eth me ;" he has evidently a special respect to that command several times re 
peated in the same discourse (which he calls, by way of eminence, his command 
ment), that they should love one another as he had loved them (see chap. xiii. 34, 
35, and chap. xv. 10, 12, 13, 14). But this command respects chiefly an exercise 
of the mind or heart, though exerted in practice. So when the Apostle John 
says, 1 John ii. 3, " Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his 
commandments ;" he has plainly a principal respect to the same command, as 
appears by what follows, ver. 7 11, and 2d Epist. ver. 5, 6; and when we 
are told in Scripture that men shall at the last day be judged according to 
their works, and all shall receive according to the things done in the body, it 
is not to be understood only of outward acts ; for if so, why is God so often 
spoken of as searching the hearts and trying the reins, " that he may render to 
every one according to his works 1" As Rev. ii. 23, " And all the churches 
shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts ; and I will give 
unto every one according to his works." Jer. xvii. 9, 10, " I the Lord search the 
heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and ac 
cording to the fruit of his doings." But if by his ways, and the fruit of his 
doings, is meant only the actions of his body, what need of searching the heart 
and reins in order to know them ? Hezekiah in his sickness pleads his prac 
tice as an evidence of his title to God s favor, as including not only his outward 
actions, but what was in his heart : Isa. xxxviii. 3, " Remember now, Lord, 
1 beseech thee, how 1 have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect 

Though in this great evidence of sincerity that the Scripture gives us, what 
is inward is of greatest importance ; yet what is outward is included and in- 


tended, as connected with the practical exertion of grace in the will, directing 
and commanding the actions of the body. And hereby are effectually cut oft 
all pretensions that any man can have to evidences of godliness, who externally 
lives wickedly ; because the great evidence lies in that inward exercise and 
practice of the soul, which consists in the acts of the will, commanding outward 
acts. But it is known, that these commanding acts of the will are not one way, 
and the actions of the bodily organs another : for the unalterable law of nature 
is, that they should be united as long as soul and body are united, and the organs 
are not so destroyed as to be incapable of those motions that the soul commands. 
Thus it would be ridiculous for a man to plead, that the commanding act of his 
will was to go to the public worship, while his feet carry him to a tavern or 
brothel-house ; or that the commanding act of his will was to give such a piece 
of money he had in his hand to a poor beggar, while his hand at the same in 
stant kept it back, and held it fast. 

Secondly, I proceed to show, that Christian practice, taken in the sense 
that has been explained, is the chief of all the evidences of a saving sincerity 
in religion, to the consciences of the professors of it ; much to be preferred 
to the method of the first convictions, enlightenings, and comforts in conver 
sion, or any immanent discoveries or exercises of grace whatsoever, that begin 
and end in contemplation.* The evidence of this appears by the following 

ARGUMENT I. Reason plainly shows, that those things which put it to the 
proof what men will actually cleave to and prefer in their practice, when left 
to follow their own choice and inclinations, are the proper trial what they 
do really prefer in their hearts. Sincerity in religion, as has been observed al 
ready, consists in setting God highest in the heart, in choosing him before other 
things, in having a heart to sell all for Christ, &c. But a man s actions are 
the proper trial what a man s heart prefers. As for instance, when it is so that 
God and other things come to stand in competition, God is as it were set before 
a man on one hand, and his worldly interest or pleasure on the other (as it often 
is so in the course of a man s life) ; his behavior in such case, in actually cleav 
ing to the one and forsaking the other, is the proper trial which he prefers. Sin 
cerity consists in forsaking all for Christ in heart ; but to forsake all for Christ 
in heart, is the very same thing as to have a heart to forsake all for Christ ; 
but certainly the proper trial whether a man has a heart to forsake all for Christ, 
is his being actually put to it, the having Christ and other things coming in com 
petition, that he must actually or practically cleave to one and forsake the other. 
To forsake all for Christ in heart, is the same thing as to have a heart to forsake 
all for Christ when called to it : but the highest proof to ourselves and others, 
that we have a heart to forsake all for Christ when called to it, is actually do 
ing it when called to it, or so far as called to it. To follow Christ in heart is 
to have a heart to follow him. To deny ourselves in heart for Christ, is the 
same thing as to have a heart to deny ourselves for him in fact. The main 
and most proper proof of a man s having a heart to any thing, concerning which 
he is at liberty to follow his own inclinations, and either to do or not to do as he 
pleases, is his doing of it. When a man is at liberty whether to speak or keep 
silence, the most proper evidence of his having a heart to speak, is his speak 
ing. When a man is at liberty whether to walk or sit still, the proper proof 

* Look upon John, Christ s beloved disciple and bosom companion ! He had received the anoin 
ing to know him that is true, and he knew that he knew him, 1 John ii. 3. But how did he knov 
that? He might be deceived; (as it is strange to see what a melancholy fancy will do, and the effects 
of it ; as honest men are reputed to have weak brains, and never saw the depths of the secrets of God ;) 
what is his last proof? " Because we keep his commandments." Shepard s Parable, Part. I. p. 131. 


of his having a heart to walk, is his walking. Godliness consists not in a heart 
to intend to do the will of God, but in a heart to do it. The children of Israel 
in the wilderness had the former, of whom we read, Deut. v. 27, 28, 29, " Go 
thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say ; and speak thou unto 
us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee, and we will hear it, and do 
it. And the Lord heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me ; and 
the Lord said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which 
they have spoken unto thee ; they have well said all that they have spoken. 
that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me and keep all my 
commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children 
for ever !" The people manifested that they had a heart to intend to keep God s 
commandments, and to be very forward in those intentions ; but God manifests, 
that this was far from being the thing that he desired, wherein true godliness 
consists, even a heart actually to keep them. 

It is therefore exceedingly absurd, and even ridiculous, for any to pretend 
that they have a good heart, while they live a wicked life, 01 do not bring forth 
the fruit of universal holiness in their practice. For it is proved in fact, that 
such men do not love God above all. It is foolish to dispute against plain fact 
and experience. Men that live in ways of sin, and yet flatter themselves that 
they shall go to heaven, or expect to be received hereafter as holy persons, 
without a holy practice, act as though they expected to make a fool of their 
Judge. Which is implied in what the apostle says (speaking of men s doing 
good works and living a holy life, thereby exhibiting evidence of their title to 
everlasting life), Gal. vi. 7 : " Be not deceived ; God is not mocked ; for whatso 
ever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." As much as to say, " Do not de 
ceive yourselves with an expectation of reaping life everlasting hereafter, if 
you do not sow to the Spirit here ; it is in vain to think that God will be made 
a fool of by you, that he will be shammed and baffled with shadows instead of 
substances, and with vain pretence, instead of that good fruit which he expects, 
when the contrary to what you pretend appears plainly in your life, before his 
face." In this manner the word mock is sometimes used in Scripture. Thus 
Delilah says to Sampson, " behold thou hast mocked me, and told me lies." 
Judges xvi. 10, 13 ; i. e., " Thou hast baffled me, as though you would have made 
a fool of me, as if I might be easily turned off with any vain pretence, instead of 
the truth." So it is said that Lot, when he told his sons in law that God would 
destroy that place, " he seemed as one that mocked, to his sons in law," Gen. 
xix. 14 ; i. e., he seemed as one that would make a game of them, as though 
they were such credulous fools as to regard such bugbears. But the great 
Judge, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, will not be mocked or baffled with any 
pretences, without a holy life. If in his name men have prophesied and wrought 
miracles, and have had faith, so that they could remove mountains, and cast out 
devils, and however high their religious affections have been, however great 
resemblances they have had of grace, and though their hiding-place has been 
so dark and deep, that no human skill nor search could find them out ; yet if 
they are workers or practisers of iniquity, they cannot hide their hypocrisy from 
their Judge : Job xxxiv. 22, " There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, 
where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves." Would a wise prince 
suffer himself to be fooled and baffled by a subject, who should pretend that 
he was a loyal subject, and should tell liis prince that he had an entire affection 
to him, and that at such and such a time he had experience of it, and felt his af 
fections strongly working towards him, and should come expecting to be accept 
ed and rewarded by his prince, as one of his best friends on that account, though 


he lived in rebellion against him, following some pretender to his crown, and 
from time to time stirring up sedition against him ? Or would a master suffer 
himself to be shammed and gulled by a servant, that should pretend to great 
experiences of love and honor towards him in his heart, and a great sense of his 
worthiness and kindness to him, when at the same time he refused to obey him, 
and he could get no service done by him ? 

ARGUMENT II. As reason shows, that those things which occur in the course 
of life, that put it to the proof whether men will prefer God to other things in 
practice, are the proper trial of the uprightness and sincerity of their hearts ; 
so the same are represented as the proper trial of the sincerity of professors in 
the Scripture. There we find that such things are called by that very name, 
trials or temptations (which I before observed are both words of the same sig 
nification). The things that put it to the proof, whether men will prefer God to 
other things in practice, are the difficulties of religion, or those things whicn 
occur, that make the practice of duty difficult and cross to other principles be 
side the love of God ; because in them, God and other things are both set before 
men together, for their actual and practical choice ; and it comes to this, that 
we cannot hold to both, but one or the other must be forsaken. And these 
things are all over the Scripture called by the name of trials or proofs.* And 
they are called by this name, because hereby professors are tried and proved of 
what sort they be, whether they be really what they profess and appear to be ; 
and because in them, the reality of a supreme love to God is brought to the test 
of experiment and fact ; they are the proper proofs in which it is truly deter 
mined by experience, whether men have a thorough disposition of heart to 
cleave to God or no : Deut. viii. 2, " And thou shalt remember all the way 
which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble 
thee, and to prove thee, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no :" 
Judges ii. 21, 22, " I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them, 
of the nations which Joshua left when he died j that through them I may prove 
Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord." So chap. iii. 1, 4, and 
Exod. xvi. 4. 

The Scripture, when it calls these difficulties of religion by the name of 
temptations or trials, explains itself to mean thereby the trial or experiment of; 
their faith : James i. 2, 3, " My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into 
divers temptations ; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience :" 
1 Pet. i. 6, 7, " Now, for a season ye are in heaviness, through manifold temp 
tations ; that the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold," 
&c. So the Apostle Paul speaks of that expensive duty of parting with our 
substance to the poor, as the proof of the sincerity of the love of Christians : 2 
Cor. viii. 8. And the difficulties of religion are often represented in Scripture, 
as being the trial of professors, in the same manner that the furnace is the pro 
per trial of gold and silver : Psal. Ixvi. 10, 11, "Thou, God, hast proved us : 
thou has tried us as silver is tried : thou broughtest us into the net, thou laidest 
affliction upon our loins." Zech. xiii. 9, " And I will bring the third part of 
them through the fire ; and I will refine them as silver is refined ; and I will try 
them as gold is tried." That which has the color and appearance of gold, is 
put into the furnace to try whether it be what it seems to be, real gold or no. 
So the difficulties of religion are called trials, because they try those that have 

* 2 Cor. viii. 2 ; Heb. xi. 36 ; 1 Pet. i. 7 ; chap. iv. 12 ; Gen. xxii. 1 ; Deut. viii. 2, 16 ; chap. xiii. 3 ; 
Exod. xv. 25 ; chap. xvi. 4 ; Judges ii. 22 ; chap. iii. 1,4; Psal. Ixvi. 10, 11 ; Dan. xii. 10 ; Rev. iii. 10 ; 
Job xxiii. 10; Zech. xiii. 9 ; James i. 12; Rev. ii. 10; Luke viii. 13; Acts xx. 19; James i. 2, 3; 1 
Pet. i. 6. 


the profession and appearance of saints, whether they are what they appear to 
be, real saints. 

If we put true gold into the furnace, we shall find its great value and precious- 
ness : so the truth and inestimable value of the virtues of a true Christian appear 
when under these trials : 1 Pet. i. 7, " That the trial of your faith, being much 
more precious than of gold that perisheth, might be found unto praise, and honor, 
and glory." True and pure gold will come out of the furnace in full weight ; 
so true saints, when tried, come forth as gold, Job xxiii. 10. Christ distinguishes 
true grace from counterfeit by this, that it is gold tried in the fire, Rev. iii. 17, 18. 
So that it is evident, that these things are called trials in Scripture, principally 
as they try or prove the sincerity of professors. And, from what has now been 
observed, it is evident that they are the most proper trial or proof of their sin 
cerity ; inasmuch as the very meaning of the word trial, as it is ordinarily used 
in Scripture, is the difficulty occurring in the way of a professor s duty, as the 
trial or experiment of his sincerity. If trial of sincerity be the proper name of 
these difficulties of religion, then, doubtless, these difficulties of religion are prop 
erly and eminently the trial of sincerity ; for they are doubtless eminently what 
they are called by the Holy Ghost : God gives things their name from that which 
is eminently their nature. And, if it be so, that these things are the proper and 
eminent trial, proof, or experiment of the sincerity of professors, then certainly 
the result of the trial or experiment (that is, persons behavior or practice under 
such trials) is the proper and eminent evidence of their sincerity ; for they are 
called trials or proofs, only with regard to the result, and because the effect is 
eminently the proof or evidence. And this is the most proper proof and evidence to 
the conscience of those, that are the subjects of these trials. For when God is 
said by these things to try men, and prove them, to see what is in their hearts, 
and whether they will keep his commandments or no; w r e are not to understand, 
that it is for his own information, or that he may obtain evidence himself of their 
sincerity (for he needs no trials for his information) ; but chiefly for their con 
viction, and to exhibit evidence to their consciences.* 

Thus, when God is said to prove Israel by the difficulties they met with in 
the wilderness, and by the difficulties they met with from their enemies in Ca 
naan, to know what was in their hearts, whether they would keep his command 
ments or no ; it must be understood, that it was to discover them to themselves, 
that they might know what was in their own hearts. So when God tempted or 
tried Abraham with that difficult command of offering up his son, it was not for his 
satisfaction, whether he feared God or no, but for Abraham s own greater satis 
faction and comfort, and the more clear manifestation of the favor of God to him. 
When Abraham had proved faithful under this trial, God says to him, " Now I 
know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, 
from me." Which plainly implies, that in this practical exercise of Abraham s 
grace under this trial, was a clearer evidence of the truth of his grace, than 
ever was before; and the greatest evidence to Abraham s conscience; because 
God himself gives it to Abraham as such, for his comfort and rejoicing ; and 
speaks of it to him as what might be the greatest evidence to his conscience of 
his being upright in the sight of his Judge. Which proves what I say, that 
holy practice, under trials, is the highest evidence of the sincerity of professors 
to their own consciences. And we find that Christ, from time to time, took the 

* " I am persuaded, as Calvin is, that all the several trials of men are to show them to themselves, 
arid to the world, that they be but counterfeits ; and to make saints known to themselves the better, Rom. 
v. 5. Tribulation works trial, and that hope, Prov. xvii. 3. If you will know whether it will hold 
weight, the trial will tell you. Shepard s Parable, Part I. p. 191. 



same method to convince the consciences of those that pretendel friendship to 
him, and to show them what they were. This was the method he took with the 
rich young man, Matt. xix. 16, &c. He seemed to show a great respect to Christ ; 
he came kneeling to him, and called him good Master, and made a great pro 
fession of obedience to the commandments ; but Christ tried him, by bidding him 
go and sell all that he had, and give to the poor, and come and take up his cross 
and follow him, telling him that then he should have treasure in heaven. So he 
tried another that we read of, Matt. viii. 20. He made a great profession of 
respect to Christ : says he, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 
Christ immediately puts his friendship to the proof, by telling him, that the foxes 
had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, but that the Son of Man had not 
where to lay his head. And thus Christ is wont still to try professed disciples in 
general, in his providence. So the seed sown, in every kind of ground, stony 
ground, thorny ground, and good ground, which, in all appears alike, when it 
first springs up ; yet is tried, and the difference made to appear, by the burning 
heat of the sun. 

Seeing therefore, th at these are the things that God makes use of to try us, 
it is undoubtedly the surest way for us to pass a right judgment on ourselves, to 
try ourselves by the same things. These trials of his are not for his information, 
but for ours ; therefore we ought to receive our information from thence. The 
surest way to know our gold, is to look upon it and examine it in God s furnace, 
where he tries it for that end, that we may see what it is. If we have a mind 
to know whether a building stands strong or no, we must look upon it when the 
wind blows. If we would know whether that which appears in the form of 
wheat, has the real substance of wheat, or be only chaff, we must observe it 
when it is winnowed. If we would know whether a staff be strong, or a rotten 
broken reed, we must observe it when it is leaned on, and weight is borne upon 
it. If we would weigh ourselves justly, we must weigh ourselves in God s scales 
that he makes use of to weigh us.* These trials, in the course of our practice, 
are as it were the balances in which our hearts are weighed, or in which Christ 
and the world, or Christ and his competitors, as to the esteem and regard they 
have in our hearts are weighed, or are put into opposite scales, by which there 
is opportunity to see which preponderates. When a man is brought to the di 
viding of paths, the one of which leads to Christ, and the other to the object of 
his lusts, to see which way he will go, or is brought, and as it were set be 
tween Christ and the world, Christ on the right hand, and the world on the left, 
so that, if he goes to one, he must leave the other, to see which his heart in 
clines most to, or which preponderates in his heart ; this is just the same thing 
as laying Christ and the world in two opposite scales ; and his going to the one, 
and leaving the other, is just the same thing as the sinking of one scale, and 
rising of the other. A man s practice, therefore, under the trials of God s provi 
dence, is as much the proper evidence of the superior inclination of his heart 
as the motion of the balance, with different weights, in opposite scales, is the 
proper experiment of the superior weight. 

ARGUMENT III. Another argument, that holy practice, in the sense which has 
been explained, is the highest kind of evidence of the truth of grace to the con 
sciences of Christians, is, that in practice, grace, in Scripture style, is said to be 
made perfect, or to be finished. So the Apostle James says, James ii. 22, 

* Dr. Sibbs, in his Bruised Reed, says, "When Christ s will ccmeth in competition with any world 
ly loss or gain, yet, if then, in that particular case, the heart will stoop to Christ, it is a true sign. For 
the truest trial of the power of grace, is in such particular cases as touch us the nearest ; for there our 
corruption maketh the greatest head. When Christ came home to the young man in the gospel, he lost 
a disciple of him." 


Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made 
perfect" (or finished, as the word in the original properly signifies) ?" So 
the love of God is said to be made perfect, or finished, in keeping his command 
ments. 1 John ii. 4, 5, " He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his com 
mandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him : but, whoso keepeth his word, 
in him verily is the love of God perfected." The commandment of Christ, 
which the apostle has especially respect to, when he here speaks of our keeping 
his commandments, is (as I observed before) that great commandment of his, 
which respects deeds of love to our brethren, as appears by the following verses. 
Again, the love of God is said to be perfected in the same sense, chapter iv. 
12 : " If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected 
in us." Here, doubtless, the apostle has still respect to loving one another, 
in the same manner that he had explained in the preceding chapter, speak 
ing of loving one another, as a sign of the love of God, verses 17, 18 : 
Whoso hath this world s goods, and shutteth up his bowels, &c., how dwelleth 
the love of God in him ? My little children, Jet us not love in word, neither in 
tongue, but in deed (or in work) and in truth." By thus loving in work, the 
apostle says, " The love of God is perfected in us." Grace is said to be per 
fected or finished in holy practice, as therein it is brought to its proper effect, 
and to that exercise which is the end of the principle ; the tendency and design 
of grace herein is reached, and its operation completed and crowned. As the 
tree is made perfect in the fruit ; it is not perfected in the seed s being planted 
in the ground ; it is not perfected in the first quickening of the seed, and in its 
putting forth root and sprout ; nor is it perfected when it comes up out of the 
ground; nor is it perfected in bringing forth leaves ; nor yet in putting forth 
blossoms : but, when it has brought forth good ripe fruit, when it is perfected, 
therein it reaches its end, the design of the tree is finished : all that belongs to 
the tree is completed and brought to its proper effect in the fruit. So is grace 
in its practical exercises. Grace is said to be made perfect or finished in its work 
or fruit, in the same manner as it is said of sin, James i. 15, " When lust hath 
conceived, it bringeth forth sin ; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." 
Here are three steps ; first, sin in its principle or habit, in the being of lust in the 
heart; and nextly, here is its conceiving, consisting in the immanent exercises 
of it in the mind ; and lastly, here is the fruit that was conceived, actually 
brought forth in the wicked work and practice. And this the apostle calls the 
finishing or perfecting of sin: for the word, in the original, is the same that is 
translated perfected in those forementioned places. 

Now certainly, if it be so, if grace be in this manner made perfect in its 
fruit, if these practical exercises of grace are those exercises wherein grace is 
brought to its proper effect and end, and the exercises wherein whatsoever be 
longs to its design, tendency and operation, is completed and crowned ; then 
these exercises must be the highest evidences of grace, above all other exercises. 
Certainly the proper nature and tendency of every principle must appear best 
and most fully in its most perfect exercises, or in those exercises wherein its 
nature is most completely exerted, and in its tendency most fully answered and 
crowned, in its proper effect and end. If we would see the proper nature of 
any thing whatsoever, and see it in its full distinction from other things : let us 
look upon it in the finishing of it. The Apostle James says, by works is faith 
made perfect ; and introduces this as an argument to prove, that works are the 
chief evidence of faith, whereby the sincerity of the professors of faith is justi 
fied, James ii. And the Apostle John, after he had once and again told us that 
love was made perfect in keeping Christ s commandments, observes, 1 John iv. 


18. That perfect love casteth out fear; meaning (at least in part) love made 
perfect in this sense ; agreeable to what he had said in the foregoing chapter, 
that, by loving in deed, Or work, we know that we are of the truth, and shall 
assure our hearts, verses 18, 19. 

ARGUMENT TV. Another thing which makes it evident, that holy practice is 
the principal evidence that we ought to make use of in judging both of our own 
and others sincerity, is, that this evidence is above all others insisted on 
in Scripture. A common acquaintance with the Scripture, together with 
a little attention and observation, will be sufficient to show to any one 
that this is ten times more insisted on as a note of true piety, throughout 
the Scripture, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelations, than 
any thing else. And, in the New Testament, where Christ and his apostles do 
expressly, and of declared purpose, lay down signs of true godliness, this is 
almost wholly insisted on. It may be observed, that Christ, and his apostles, do 
not only often say those things, in their discoursing on the great doctrines of re 
ligion, which do show what the nature of true godliness must be, or from whence 
the nature and signs of it may be inferred by just consequence, and often occa 
sionally mention many things which do appertain to godliness ; but they do 
also often, of set purpose, give signs and marks for the trial of professors, putting 
them upon trying themselves by the signs they give, introducing what they say, 
with such like expressions as these : " By this you shall know, that you know 
God : by this are manifest the children of God, and the children of the devil : 
he that hath this, builds on a good foundation ; he that hath it not, builds on 
the sand : hereby we shall assure our hearts : he is the man that loveth Christ," 
&c. But I can find no place, where either Christ or his apostles do, in this 
manner, give signs of godliness (though the places are many), but where Chris 
tian practice is almost the only thing insisted on. Indeed in many of these 
places, love to the brethren is spoken of as a sign of godliness ; and, as I have 
observed before, there is no one virtuous affection, or disposition, so often ex 
pressly spoken of as a sign of true grace, as our having love one to another: 
but then the Scriptures explain themselves to intend chiefly this love as exercised 
and expressed in practice, or in deeds of love. So does the Apostle John, who, 
above all others, insists on love to the brethren as a sign of godliness, most ex 
pressly explain himself, in that 1 John iii. 14, &c, " We know that we have 
passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren : he that loveth not 
his brother, abideth in death. Whoso hath this world s good, and seeth his 
brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwell- 
eth the love of God in him ? My little children, let us love, not in w r ord, neither 
in tongue, but in deed (i. e., in deeds of love) and in truth. And hereby we 
know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him." So that 
when the Scripture so much insists on our loving one another, as a great sign 
of godliness, we are not thereby to understand the immanent workings of affec 
tion which men feel one to another, so much as the soul s practising all the duties 
of the second table of the law ; all which the New Testament tells us again and 
again, a true love one to another comprehends, Rom. xiii. 8 and 10, Gal. v. 
14, Matt. xxii. 39, 40. So that, really, there is no place in the New Testa 
ment where the declared design is to give signs of godliness, but that holy prac 
tice, and keeping Christ s commandments, is the mark chosen out from all others 
to be insisted on. Which is an invincible argument, that it is the chief of all the 
evidences of godliness : unless we suppose that when Christ and his apostles, 
on design, set themselves about this business of giving signs, by which profess 
ing Christians, in all ages, might determine their state j they did not know how 


to choose signs so well as we could have chosen for them. But, if we make the 
word of Christ our rule, then undoubtedly those marks which Christ and his 
apostles did chiefly lay down, and give to us, that we might try ourselves by 
them, those same marks we ought especially to receive, and chiefly to make use 
of, in the trial of ourselves.* Arid surely those things, which Christ and his 
apostles chiefly insisted on, in the rules they gave, ministers ought chiefly to 
insist on in the rules they give. To insist much on those things that the Scrip 
ture insists little on, and to insist very little on those things on which the Scrip 
ture insists much, is a dangerous thing ; because it is going out of God s way, 
and is to judge ourselves, and guide others, in an unscriptural manner. God 
knew which way of leading and guiding souls was safest and best for them : he 
insisted so much on some things, because he knew it to be needful that they 
should be insisted on ; and let other things more alone as a wise God, because 
he knew it was not best for us, so much to lay the weight of the trial there. 
As the Sabbath was made for man, so the Scriptures were made for man ; arid 
they are, by infinite wisdom, fitted for our use and benefit. We should, there 
fore, make them our guide in all things, in our thoughts of religion, and of our 
selves. And for us to make that great which the Scripture makes little, and that 
little which the Scripture makes great, tends to give us a monstrous idea of reli 
gion ; and (at least indirectly and gradually) to lead us wholly away from the right 
rule, and from a right opinion of ourselves, and to establish delusion and hypocrisy. 
ARGUMENT V. Christian practice is plainly spoken of in the word of God, 
as the main evidence of the truth of grace, not only to others, but to men s own 
consciences. It is not only more spoken of and insisted on than other signs, 
but in many places where it is spoken of, it is represented as the chief of P all 
evidences. This is plain in the manner of expression from time to time. If 
God were now to speak from heaven to resolve our doubts concerning signs of 
godliness, and should give some particular sign, that by it all might know 
whether they were sincerely godly or not, with such emphatical expressions as 
these, the man that has such a qualification or mark, " that is the man that is a 
true saint, that is the very man, by this you may know, this is the thing by 
which it is manifest who are saints and who are sinners, such men as these are 
saints indeed ;" should not we look upon it as a thing beyond 4>ubt, that this 
was given, as a special, and eminently distinguishing note of true godliness ? 
But this is the very case with respect to the sign of grace I am speaking of; 
God has again and again uttered himself in his word in this very manner, con 
cerning Christian practice, as John xiv., " he that hath my commandments, and 
keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." Thus Christ in this place gives to the 
disciples, not so much to guide them in judging of others, as to apply to them 
selves for their own comfort after his departure, as appears by every word of 
the context. And by the way I would observe, that not only the emphasis with 
which Christ utters himself is remarkable, but also his so much insisting on, 
and repeating the matter, as he does in the context : verse 15, "If ye love me, 
keep my commandments." Verse 23, " If a man love me, he will keep my words." 
And verse 24, " He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings." And in the 
next chapter over and over : verse 2, " Every branch in me that beareth not 
fruit, he taketh away ; and every branch that beareth fruit ; he purgeth it." Verse 
8, " Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit ; so shall ye be my 
disciples." Verse 14, " Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 

* " It is a sure rule, says Dr. Preston, that, what the Scriptures .bestow much words on, we should 
nave much thoughts on : and what the Holy Ghost urgeth most, we should prize most. Church * 


We have this mark laid clown with the same emphasis again, John viii. 31 : 
"If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed." And again, 
1 John ii. 3, "Hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his command 
ments." And verse 5, " Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love oi 
God perfected ; hereby know we, that we are in him." And chapter iii. 18, 
19, " Let us love in deed, and in truth ; hereby we know that we are of the 
truth." What is translated hereby would have beeli a little more ernphatical, 
if it had been rendered more literally from the original, by this we do know. 
And how evidently is holy practice spoken of as the grand noto of distinction be 
tween the children of God and the children of the devil, in verse 10, of the same 
chapter? " In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the 
devil." Speaking of a holy, and a wicked practice, as may be seen in all the 
context ; as verse 3, " Every man that hath this, hope in him, purineth himself, 
even as he is pure." Verses 6 10, u Whosoever abideth in him, sinneth not ; 
whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let 
no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousnesses righteous, even as he is 
righteous : he that committeth sin is of the devil. Whosoever is born of God, 
sinneth not. Whosoever doeth not righteousness, is not of God." So we have 
the like emphasis, 2 John 6 : " This is love, that we walk after his command 
ments ;" that is (as we must understand it), this is the proper evidence 01 
love. So 1 John v. 3, " This is the love of God, that we keep his command 
ments." So the Apostle James, speaking of the proper evidences of true and 
pure religion, says, James i. 27, " Pure religion and undefiled before God and 
the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to 
keep himself unspotted from the world." We have the like emphatical expres 
sions used about the same thing in the Old Testament, Job xxviii. 28 : " And 
unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart 
from evil is understanding." Jer. xxii. 15, 16, " Did not thy father eat and 
drink, and do judgment and justice ? He judged the cause of the poor and 
needy: was not this to know me ? saith the Lord." Psal. xxxiv. 11, &c., 
" Come, ye children, unto me, and 1 will teach you the fear of the Lord. Keep 
thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile ; depart from evil, and 
do good ; seek peace and pursue it." Psal. xv., at the beginning, " Who shall 
abide in thy tabernacle ? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill ? He that walketh 
uprightly," &c. Psal. xxiv. 3, 4, " Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ? 
And who shall stand in his holy place ? He that hath clean hands, and a pure 
heart," &c. Psal. cxix. 1, " Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk 
in the law of the Lord." Verse 6, " Then shall I not be ashamed, when I 
have respect to all thy commandments." Prov. viii. 13, " The fear of the 
Lord is to hate evil." 

So the Scripture never uses such emphatical expressions concerning any 
other signs of hypocrisy, and unsoundness of heart, as concerning an unholy 
practice. So Gal. vi. 7, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for 
whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10, " Be not 
deceived ; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, &c., shall inherit the kingdom of 
God." Eph. v. 5, 6, " For this ye know,, that no whoremonger nor unclean 
nerson, &c , hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, and of God. Let 
no man deceive you with vain words." 1 John iii. 7, 8, " Little children, let no 
man deceive you ; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is right- 
sous ; he that committeth sin, is of the devil." Chap. ii. 4, " He that saith, I 
know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in 
him-" And chap. i. 6, " If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk 


m d.vkness, we lie, and do not the truth." James i. 26, " If any man among 
you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own 
heart; this man s religion is vain." Chap. iii. 14, 15, " If ye have bitter en 
vying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This 
wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish." Psal. cxxv. 
5, " As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead 
them forth with the workers of iniquity." Isa. xxxv. 8, " A high way shall be 
there, and it shall be called the way of holiness ; the unclean shall not pass 
over it." Rev. xxi. 27, " And there shall in no wise enter into it, whatsoever 
worketh abomination, or maketh a lie." And in many places, " Depart from 
me, I know you not, ye that work iniquity." 

ARGUMENT VI. Another thing which makes it evident, that holy practice 
is the chief of all the signs of the sincerity of professors, not only to the world, 
but to their own consciences, is, that this is the grand evidence which will here 
after be made use of, before the judgment seat of God ; according to which his 
judgment will be regulated, and the state of every professor of religion unalter 
ably determined. In the future judgment, there will be an open trial of profes 
sors, and evidences will be made use of in the judgment. For God s future 
judging of men, in order to their eternal retribution, will not be his trying, and 
finding out, and passing a judgment upon the state of men s hearts, in his own 
mind ; but it will be, a declarative judgment ; and the end of it will be, 
not God s forming a judgment within himself, but the manifestation of 
his judgment, and the righteousness of it, to men s own consciences, and 
to the world. And therefore the day of judgment is called the day of 
the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, Rom. ii. 5. And the end 
of God s future trial and judgment of men, as to the part that each one 
in particular is to have -in the judgment, will be especially the clear man 
ifestation of God s righteous judgment, with respect to him, ^to his con 
science ; as is manifest by Matt, xviii. 31, to the end; chap. xx. 8 15, 
chap. xxii. 11, 12, 13, chap. xxv. 19 30, and verse 35, to the end, Luke 
xix. 15 23. And therefore, though God needs no medium whereby to make 
the truth evident to himself, yet evidences will be made use of in his future judg 
ing of men. And doubtless the evidences that will be made use of in their 
trial, will be such as will be best fitted to serve the ends of the judg 
ment ; viz., the manifestation of the righteous judgment of God, not only to 
the world, but to men s own consciences. But the Scriptures do abundantly 
teach us, that the grand evidences which the Judge will make use of in the trial, 
for these ends, according to which the judgment of every one shall be reg 
ulated, and the irreversible sentence passed, will be men s works, or practice, 
here in this world : Rev. xx. 12, " And I saw the dead, small and great, stand 
before God ; and the books were opened ; and the dead were judged out of 
those things which were written in the books, according to their works." So 
verse 13, " And the sea gave up the dead which were in it ; and death and hell 
gave up the dead which were in them .; and they were judged every man ac 
cording to their works." 2 Cor. v. 10, " For we must all appear before the 
judgment seat of Christ ; that every one may receive the things done in his 
body, whether it be good or bad." So men s practice is the only evidence that 
Christ represents the future judgment as regulated by, in that most particular 
description of the day of judgment, which we have in the Holy Bible, Matt, 
xxv. at the latter end. See also Rom. ii. 6, 13, Jer. xvii. 10, Job. xxxiv. 11, 
Prov. xxiv. 12, Jer. xxxii. 19, Rev. xxii. 12, Matt. xvi. 27, Rev. ii. 23, Ezek. 
xxxiii. 20, 1 Pet. i, 17. The Judge, at the day of judgment, will not 


Cfor the conviction of men s own consciences, and to manifest them to the world) 
go about to examine men, as to the method of their experiences, or set every man 
to tell his story of the manner of his conversion ; but his works will be brought 
forth, as evidences of what he is, what he has done in darkness and in light : 
Eccl. xii. 14, " For God will bring every work into judgment, with every se 
cret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." In the trial that profess 
ors shall be the subjects of, in the future judgment, God will make use of the 
same evidences, to manifest them to themselves and to the world, which he 
makes use of to manifest them, in the temptations or trials. of his providence 
here, viz., their practice, in cases wherein Christ and other things come into 
actual and immediate competition. At the day of judgment, God, for the mani 
festation of his righteous judgment, will weigh professors in a balance that is 
visible. And the balance will be the same that he weighs men in now, which 
has been already described. 

Hence we may undoubtedly infer, that men s works (taken in the sense 
that has been explained) are the highest evidences by which they ought to try 
themselves. Certianly that which our supreme Judge will chiefly make use of 
to judge us by, when we come to stand before him, we should chiefly make use 
of, to judge ourselves by.* If it had not been revealed in what manner, and by 
what evidence the Judge would proceed with us hereafter, how natural would 
it be for one to say, " that I knew what token God will chiefly look for and 
insist upon in the last and decisive judgment, and which he expects that all 
should be able to produce, who would then be accepted of him, and according to 
which sentence shall be passed ; that I might know what token or evidence es 
pecially to look at and seek after now, as I would be sure not to fail then." 
And seeing God has so plainly and abundantly revealed what this token or 
evidence is, surely, if we act wisely, we shall regard it as of the greatest im 

Now from all that has been said, I think it to be abundantly manifest, that 
Christian practice is the most proper evidence of the gracious sincerity of pro 
fessors, to themselves and others ; and the chief of all the marks of grace, the 
sign of signs, and evidence of evidences, that which seals and crowns all other 

signs. 1 had rather have the testimony of my conscience, that I have such a 

saying of my Supreme Judge on my side, as that, John xiv. 21, " He that hath 
my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me ;" than the judg 
ment and fullest approbation of all the wise, sound, and experienced divines, 
that have lived this thousand years, on the most exact and critical examination 
of my experiences, as to the manner of my conversion. Not that there are no 
other good evidences of a state of grace but this. There may be other exer 
cises of grace besides these efficient exercises, which the saints may have in con 
templation, that may be very satisfying to them, but yet this is the chief and 
most proper evidence. There may be several good evidences that a tree is a 
fig-tree ; but the highest and most proper evidence of it is, that it actually bears 
figs. It is possible, that a man may have a good assurance of a state of grace, 
at his first conversion, before he has had opportunity to gain assurance, by this 
great evidence I am speaking of. If a man hears that a great treasure is offer 
ed him, in a distant place, on condition that he will prize it so much, as to be 
willing to leave what he possesses at home, and go a journey for it, over the 
rocks and mountains that are in the way, to the place where it is ; it is possible 

* " That which God maketh a rule of his own judgment, as that by which be judgeth of every man, 
lhat is a sure rule for for every man to judge himself by. Tha^ which we shall be judged by at the last 
day, is a sure rule to apply to ourselves for the present. Now by our obedience and works he judgeth 
us. " He wi.l give to every man according to his works." Dr. Preston s Church s Carriage. 


the man may be well assured, that he values the treasure to the degree spoken 
of, as soon as the offer is made him : he may feel within him, a willingness to 
go for the treasure, beyond all doubt ; but yet, this does not hinder but that his 
actual going for it, is the highest and most proper evidence of his being willing, 
not only to others, but to himself. But then as an evidence to himself, his out 
ward actions, and the motions of his body in his journey, are not considered 
alone, exclusive of the action of his mind, and a consciousness within himself, 
of the thing that moves him, and the end he goes for ; otherwise his bodily 
motion is no evidence to him of his prizing the treasure. In such a manner is 
Christian practice the most proper evidence of a saving value of the pearl of 
great price, and treasure hid in the field. 

Christian practice is the sign of signs, in this sense, that it is the great evi 
dence, which confirms and crowns all other signs of godliness. There is no 
one grace of the Spirit of God, but that Christian practice is the most proper 
evidence of the truth of it. As it is with the members of our bodies, and all 
our utensils, the proper proof of the soundness and goodness of them, is in the 
use of them: so it is with our graces (which are given to be used in practice, 
as much as our hands and feet, or the tools with which we work, or the arms 
with which we fight), the proper trial and proof of them is in their exercise in 
practice. Most of the things we use are serviceable to us, and so have their 
serviceableness proved, in some pressure, straining, agitation, or collision. So 
it is with a bow, a sword, an axe, a saw, a cord, a chain, a staff, a foot, a 
tooth, &c. And they that are so weak, as not to bear the strain or pressure 
we need to put them to, are good for nothing. So it is with all the virtues of 
the mind. The proper trial and proof of them, is in being exercised under those 
temptations and trials that God brings us under, in the course of his providence, 
and in being put to such service as strains hard upon the principles of nature. 

Practice is the proper proof of the true and saving knowledge of God ; as 
appears by that of the apostle already mentioned, " hereby do we know that we 
know him, that we keep his commandments." It is in vain for us to profess that 
we know God, if in works we deny him, Tit. i. 16. And if we know God, 
but glorify him not as God ; our knowledge will only condemn us, and not 
save us, Rom. i. 21. The great note of that knowledge which saves and makes 
happy, is, that it is practical: John xiii. 17, " If ye know these things, happy 
are ye if ye do them." Job xxviii. 28, " To depart from evil is understanding." 

Holy practice is the proper evidence of repentance. When the Jews pro 
fessed repentance, when they came confessing their sins, to John, preaching the 
baptism of repentance for the remission of sins ; he directed them to the right 
way of getting and exhibiting proper evidences of the truth of their repentance, 
when he said to them, " Bring forth fruits meet for repentance," Matt. iii. 8. 
Which was agreeable to the practice of the Apostle Paul ; see Acts xxvi. 20. 
Pardon and mercy are from time to time promised to him who has this evidence 
of true repentance, that he forsakes his sin, Prov. xxviii. 13, and Isa. Iv. 7, and 
many other places. 

Holy practice is the proper evidence of a saving faith. It is evident that 
the Apostle James speaks of works, as what do eminently justify faith, or 
(which is the same thing) justify the professors of faith, and vindicate and man 
ifest the sincerity of their profession, not only to the world, but to their own 
consciences ; as is evident by the instance he gives of Abraham, James ii. 21 
24. And in verses 20 and 26, he speaKs of the practical and working nature 
of faith, as the very life and soul of it ; in the same manner that the active nature 
and substance, which is in the body of a man, is the life and soul of that. And 

VOL. III. 28 


if so, doubtless practice is the proper evidence of the life and soul of true faith, 
by which it is distinguished from a dead faith. For doubtless, practice is the 
most proper evidence of a practical nature, and operation the most proper ev ; . 
dence of an operative nature. 

Practice is the best evidence of a saving belief of the truth. That is spoken 
of as the proper evidence of the truth s being in a professing Christian, that he 
walks in the truth, 3 John 3 : " I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and 
testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth." 

Practice is the most proper evidence of a true coming to Christ, and accept 
ing of, and closing with him. A true and saving coming to Christ, is (as 
Christ often teaches) a coming so as to forsake all for him. And, as was ob 
served before, to forsake all for Christ in heart, is the same thing as to have a 
heart actually to forsake all ; but the proper evidence of having a heart actually 
to forsake all, is, indeed, actually to forsake all so far as called to it. If a 
prince make suit to a woman in a far country, that she would forsake her own 
people, and father s house, and come to him to be his bride ; the proper eri 
dence of the compliance of her heart with the king s suit 7 , is her actually forsak 
ing her own people and father s house, and coming to him. By this her com 
pliance with the king s suit is made perfect, in the same sense that the Apostle 
James says, By works is faith made perfect.* Christ promises us eternal life, 
on condition of our coming to him : but it is such a coming as he directed the 
young man to, who came to inquire what he should do that he might have eter 
nal life ; Christ bade him go and sell all that he had, and come to him, and fol 
low him. If he had consented in his heart to the proposal, and had therein 
come to Christ in his heart, the proper evidence of it would have been his doing 
of it ; and therein his coming to Christ would have been made perfect. When 
Christ called Levi the publican, when sitting at the receipt of custom, and in 
the midst of his worldly gains; the closing of Levi s heart with this invitation 
of his Saviour to come to him, was manifested, and made perfect by his actually 
rising up, leaving all, and following him, Luke v. 27, 28. Christ, and other 
things, are set before us together, for us particularly to cleave to one, and for 
sake the other ; in such a case, a practical cleaving to Christ is a practical ac 
ceptance of Christ ; as much as a beggar s reaching out his hand and taking a 
gift that is offered, is his practical acceptance of the gift. Yea, that act of the 
soul that is in cleaving to Christ in practice is itself the most perfect coming of 
the soul to Christ. 

Practice is the most proper evidence of trusting in Christ for salvation. The 
proper signification of the word trust, according to the more ordinary use of it, 
both in common speech and in the Holy Scriptures, is the emboldening and en 
couragement of a person s mind, to run some venture in practice, or in something 
that he does on the credit of another s sufficiency and faithfulness. And, there 
fore, the proper evidence of his trusting, is the venture he runs in what he does. 
He is not properly said to run any venture, in a dependence on any thing, that 
does nothing on that dependence, or whose practice is no otherwise than if he 
had no dependence. For a man to run a venture on a dependence on another, 
is for him to do something from that dependence by which he seems to expose 

* " Our real taking of Christ appears in our actions and works : Isa. i. 19, If ye consent and obey, 
ye shall eat the good things of the land. That is, if ye will consent to take JEHOVAH for your Lord 
and King ; if ye give consent, there is the first thins* ; but that is not enough, but if ye also obey. The 
consent that standeth in the inward aot of the mind, the truth of it will be seen in your obedience, in the 
acts of your lives, If ye consent and obey, ye shall eat the good things of the land ; that is, you shall 
take of all that he hath that is convenient for you ; for then you are married to him in truth, and have 
an interest m all his goods." Dr. Preston s Church s Carriage. 


himself, and which he would not do, were it not for that dependence. And, 
therefore, it is in complying with the difficulties, and seeming dangers of Chris 
tian practice, in a dependence on Christ s sufficiency and faithfulness to bestow 
eternal life, that persons are said to venture themselves upon Christ, and trust 
in him for happiness,and life. They depend on such promises as that, Matt. 
x. 39, " He that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it." And so they part 
with all, and venture their all, in a dependence on Christ s sufficiency and truth. 
And this is the Scripture notion of trusting in Christ, in the exercise of a saving 
faith in him. Thus Abraham, the father of believers, trusted in Christ, and by 
faith forsook his own country, in a reliance on the covenant of grace God estab 
lished with him, Heb. xi. 8, 9. Thus also, " Moses, by faith refused to be 
called the son of Pharaoh s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with 
the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season," Heb. xi. 23, 
&c. So by faith, others exposed themselves to be stoned and sawn asunder, or 
slain with the sword j " endured the trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, 
bonds and imprisonments, and wandered about in sheep skins, and goat skins, 
being destitute, afflicted, tormented." And in this sense the Apostle Paul, by 
faith trusted in Christ, and committed himself to him, venturing himself, and 
his whole interest, in a dependence on the ability and faithfulness of his Redeem 
er, under great persecutions, and in suffering the loss of all things : 2 Tim. i. 
12, " For the which cause I also suffer these things ; nevertheless I am not asham 
ed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded, that he is able to 
keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." 

If a man should have word brought him from the king of a distant island, 
that he intended to make him his heir, if, upon receiving the tidings, he imme 
diately leaves his native land and friends, and all that he has in the world, to 
go to that country, in a dependence on what he hears, then he may be said to 
venture himself, and all that he has in the world upon it. But, if he only sits 
still, and hopes for the promised benefit, inwardly pleasing himself with the 
thoughts of it ; he cannot properly be said to venture himself upon it ; he runs 
no venture in the case ; he does nothing, otherwise than he would do, if he had 
received no such tidings, by which he would be exposed to any suffering in case 
all should fail. So he that, on the credit of what he hears of a future world, 
and, in a dependence on the. report of the gospel, concerning life and immorta 
lity, forsakes all, or does so at least, so far as there is occasion, making every 
thing entirely give place to his eternal interest ; he, and he only, may properly 
be said to venture himself on the report of the gospel. And this is the proper 
evidence of a true trust in Christ for salvation. 

Practice is the proper evidence of a gracious love, both to God and men. 
The texts that plainly teach this, have been so often mentioned already, that it 
is needless to repeat them. 

Practice is the proper evidence of humility. That expression, and manifes 
tation of humility of heart, which God speaks of, as the great expression of it, 
that he insists on ; that we should look upon as the proper expression and man 
ifestation of it : but this is walking humbly. Micah vi. 8, " He hath showed 
thee, man, what is good ; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do 
justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God ?" 

This is also the proper evidence of the true fear of God : Prov. viii. 13, " The 
fear of the Lord is to hate evil." Psal. xxxiv. 11, &c., " Come, ye children, 
nearken unto me, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Keep thy tongue 
from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile : depart from evil, and do good ; 
seek peace and pursue it." Prov. iii. 7, " Fear the Lord, and depart from 


evil." Prov. xvi. 6, " By the fear of the Lord, men depart from evil." Job 

1. 8, " Hast thou considered my servant Job a perfect and an upright man, one 
that feareth God, and escheweth evil ?" Chap. ii. 3, " Hast thou considered 
my servant Job a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and es 
cheweth evil ? And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst 
me against him." Psal. xxxvi. 1, " The transgression of the wicked saith within 
my heart, There is no fear of God before his eyes." 

So practice, in rendering again according to benefits received, is the proper 
evidence of true thankfulness. Psal. cxvi. 12, " What shall I render to the 
Lord for all his benefits towards me ?" SChron.xxxii. 25, " But Hezekiah ren 
dered not again according to the benefit done unto him." Paying our vows 
unto God, and ordering our conversation aright, seem to be spoken of as the 
proper expression and evidence of true thankfulness, in the 50th Psalm, ver. 14 : 
" Orfer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High." Verse 
22, " Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me : and to him that ordereth his con 
versation aright, will 1 show the salvation of God." 

Soothe proper evidence of gracious desires and longings, and that which 
distinguishes them from those that are false and vain, is, that they are not idle 
wishes and wouldings like Balaam s ; but effectual in practice, to stir up persons 
earnestly and thoroughly to seek the things they long for. Psalm xxvii. 4, 
" One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will 1 seek after." Psal. Ixiii. 1, 

2, " God, thou art my God, early will L seek thee : my soul thirsteth for thee, 
my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, to see 
thy power and thy glory." Verse 8, " My soul followeth hard after thee." 
Cant. i. 4, " Draw me, we will run after thee." 

Practice is the proper evidence of a gracious hope : 1 John iii. 3, " Every 
man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure." Patient 
continuance in well-doing, through the difficulties and trials of the Christian 
course, is often mentioned as the proper ex pression and fruit of a Christian hope. 
1 Thess. i. 3, " Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of 
love, and patience of hope." 1 Pet. i. 13, 14, " Wherefore, gird up the loin? 
of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought 
unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, as obedient children," &c. Psal. cxix. 
166, " Lord, I have hoped in thy salvation, and done thy commandments." 
Psal. Ixxviii. 7, " That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the 
works of the Lord, but keep his commandments." 

A cheerful practice of our duty, and doing the will of God, is the proper 
evidence of a truly holy joy. Isa. Ixiv. 5, " Thou meetest him that rejoiceth, 
and worketh righteousness." Psal. cxix. Ill, 112, "Thy testimonies have I 
taken for my heritage for ever ; for they are the rejoicing of my heart. I have 
inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even to the end." Verse 14, 
" I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies as much as in all riches." 

1 Cor. xiii. 6, " Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth." 

2 Cor. viii. 2, " The abundance of their joy abounded unto the riches of their 

Practice also is the proper evidence of Christian fortitude. The trial of a 
good soldier is not in his chimney corner, but in the field of battle, 1 Cor. ix. 
25, 26, 2 Tim. ii. 3, 4, 5. 

And, as the fruit of holy practice is the chief evidence of the truth of grace, 
so the degree in which experiences have influence on a person s practice, is the 
surest evidence of the degree of that which is spiritual and divine in his experi 
ences. Whatever pretences persons may make to great discoveries, great love 


and joys, they are no further to be regarded than they have influence on their 
practice. Not but that allowances must be made for the natural temper. But 
that does not hinder, but that the degree of grace is justly measured, by the de 
gree of the effect in practice. For the effect of grace is as great, and the alter 
ation as remarkable, in a very ill natural temper, as another. Although a per 
son of such a temper will not behave himself so well, with the same degree of 
grace as another, the diversity from what was before conversion, may be as 
great ; because a person of a good natural temper did not behave himself so ill 
before conversion. 

Thus 1 have endeavored to represent the evidence there is, that Christian 
practice is the chief of all the signs of saving grace. And, before I con 
clude this discourse, 1 would say something briefly in answer to two objections 
that may possibly be made by some against what has been said upon this head. 

OBJECTION I. Some may be ready to say, this seems to be contrary to that 
opinion, so much received among good people ; that professors should judge of 
their state, chiefly by their inward experience, and that spiritual experiences 
are the main evidences of true grace. 

I answer, it is doubtless a true opinion, and justly much received among 
good people, that professors should chiefly judge of their state by their ex 
perience. But it is a great mistake, that what has been said is at all contrary 
to that opinion. The chief sign of grace to the consciences of Christians, 
being Christian practice, in the sense that has been explained, and according 
to what has been shown to be the true notion of Christian practice, is not 
at all inconsistent with Christian experience, being the chief evidence of 
grace. Christian or holy practice is spiritual practice ; and that is not the 
motion of a body that knows riot how, nor when, nor wherefore it moves : 
but spiritual practice in man is the practice of a spirit and body jointly, 
or the practice of a spirit animating, commanding, and actuating a body to 
which it is united, and over which it has power given it by the Creator. And, 
therefore, the main thing, in this holy practice, is the holy action of the mind, 
directing and governing the motions of the body. And the motions of the body 
are to be looked upon as belonging to Christian practice, only secondarily, and 
as they are dependent and consequent on the acts of the soul. The exercises 
of grace that Christians find, or are conscious to within themselves, are what 
they experience within themselves ; and herein therefore lies Christian experi 
ence : and this Christian experience consists as much in those operative exer 
cises of grace in the will, that are immediately concerned in the management 
of the behavior of the body, as in other exercises. These inward exercises are 
not the less a part of Christian experience, because they have outward behavior 
immediately connected with them. A strong act of love to God, is not the less 
a part of spiritual experience, because it is the act that immediately produces 
and effects some self-denying and expensive outward action, which is much to 
the honor and glory of God. 

To speak of Christian experience and practice, as if they were two things, 
properly and entirely distinct, is to make a distinction without consideration or 
reason. Indeed, all Christian experience is not properly called practice, but all 
Christian practice is properly experience. And the distinction that is made be 
tween them, is not only an unreasonable, but an unscriptural distinction. Holy 
practice is one kind or part of Christian experience j and both reason and Scrip 
ture represent it as the chief, and most important and most distinguishing part 
of it. So it is represented in Jer. xxii. 15, 16 : " Did not thy father eat and 
drink, and do justice and judgment ? He judged the cause of the poor and 


needy Was not this to know me, saith the Lord ?" Our inward acquaintance 
with God surely belongs to the head of experimental religion : but this, God 
represents as consisting chiefly in that experience which there is in holy prac 
tice. So the exercises of those graces of the love of God, and the fear of God, 
are a part of experimental religion : but these the Scripture represents as con 
sisting chiefly in practice, in those forementioned texts : 1 John v. 3, " This is 
the love of God, that we keep his commandments." 2 John 6, " This is love, 
that we walk after his commandments." Psal. xxxiv. 11, &c., " Come, ye 
children, and 1 will teach you the fear of the Lord : depart from evil, and do 
good." Such experiences as these Hezekiah took comfort in, chiefly on his 
sick bed, when he said, " Remember, Lord, I beseech thee, how I have 
walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart." And such experiences 
as these, the Psalmist chiefly insists upon, in the 119th Psalm, and elsewhere. 

Such experiences as these the Apostle Paul mainly insists upon, when he 
speaks of his experiences in his epistles ; as, Rom. i. 9, " God is my witness, 
whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son." 2 Cor. i. 12, " For 
our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that by the grace of God, 
we have had our conversation in the world." Chap. iv. 13, " We, having the 
same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I have believed, and therefore 
have I spoken ; we also believe, and therefore speak." Chap. v. 7, " We walk 
by faith, not by sight." Ver. 14, " The love of Christ constrairieth us." Chap, 
vi. 4 7, " In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in mucft 
patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in labors, in watchings, in 
fastings. By pureness, by knowledge, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love 
unfeigned ; by the power of God." Gal. ii. 20, " I am crucified with Christ : 
nevertheless I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me : and the life, which I 
now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God." Phil. iii. 7, 8, 
" But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubt 
less, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of 
Christ Jesus my Lord, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ." 
Col. i. 29, " Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which 
worketh in me mightily." 1 Thess. ii. 2, " We were bold in our God, to speak 
unto you the gospel of God with much contention." Ver. 8, 9, 10, u Being 
affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not 
the gospel of God only, but also our Ov/n souls, because ye were dear unto us. 
For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travel, laboring night and day. Ye 
are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblamably, we be 
haved ourselves among you." And such experiences as these they were, that 
this blessed apostle chiefly comforted himself in the consideration of, when he 
was going to martyrdom : 2 Tim. iv. 6, 7, " For I am now ready to be offered, and 
the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished 
my course, I have kept the faith." 

And not only does the most important and distinguishing part of Christian 
experience lie in spiritual practice ; but such is the nature of that sort of exercises 
of grace, wherein spiritual practice consists, that nothing is so properly called 
by the name of experimental religion. For, that experience, which is in these 
exercises of grace, that are found and prove effectual at the very point of trial, 
wherein God proves, which we will actually cleave to, whether Christ or our 
lusts, is, as has been shown already, the proper experiment of the truth and 
power of our godliness ; wherein its victorious power and efficacy, in producing 
its proper effect, and reaching its end, is found by experience. This is properly 
Christian experience, wherein the saints have opportunity to see, by actual ex- 


penence and trial, whether they have a heart to do the will of God, and to for 
sake other things for Christ, or no. As that is called experimental philosophy 
which brings opinions and notions to the test of fact, so is that properly called 
experimental religion, which brings religious affections and intentions to the 
like test. 

There is a sort of external religious practice, wherein is no inward experi 
ence, which no account is made of in the sight of God, but it is esteemed good 
for nothing. And there is what is called experience, that is without practice, 
being neither accompanied nor followed with a Christian behavior ; and this is 
worse than nothing. Many persons seem to have very wrong notions of Chris 
tian experience and spiritual light and discoveries. Whenever a person finds 
within him a heart to treat God as God, at the time that he has the trial, and 
finds his disposition effectual in the experiment, that is the most proper, and 
most distinguishing experience. And to have, at such a time, that sense of 
divine things, that apprehension of the truth, importance and excellency of the 
things of religion, which then sways and prevails, and governs his heart and 
hands ; this is the most excellent spiritual light, and these are the most distin 
guishing discoveries. Religion consists much in holy a ffection ; but those ex 
ercises of affection which are most distinguishing of true religion, are these 
practical exercises. Friendship between earthly friends consists much in affec 
tion; but yet, those strong exercises of affection, that actually carry them 
through fire and water for each other, are the highest evidences of true friend 

There is nothing in what has been said, contrary to what is asserted by 
some sound divines ; when they say, that there are no sure evidences of grace, 
but the acts of grace. For that doth not hinder, but that these operative, pro 
ductive acts, those exercises of grace that are effectual in practice, may be the 
highest evidences above all other kinds of acts of grace. Nor does it hinder, 
but that, when there are many of these acts and exercises, following one ano 
ther in a course, under various trrals of every kind, the evidence is still height 
ened ; as one act confirms another. A man, once by seeing his neighbor, may 
have good evidence of his presence ; but by seeing him from day to day, and 
conversing with him in a course, in various circumstances, the evidence is es 
tablished. The disciples when they first saw Christ, after his resurrection, had 
good evidence that he was alive ; but, by conversing with him for forty days, 
and his showing himself to them alive by many infallible proofs, they had yet 
higher evidence.* 

The witness or seal of the Spirit that we read of, doubtless consists in the 
effect of the Spirit of God on the heart, in the implantation and exercises of grace 
there, and so consists in experience. And it is also beyond doubt, that this seal 
of the Spirit, is the highest kind of evidence of the saints adoption, that ever 
they obtain. But in these exercises of grace in practice, that have been spoken 
of, God gives witness, and sets to his seal, in the most conspicuous, eminent, 

* " The more these visible exercises of grace are renewed, the more certain you will be. The more 
frequently these actings are renewed, the more abiding and confirmed your assurance will be. A man 
that has been assured of such visible exercises of grace, may quickly after be in doubt whether he was 
not mistaken. But when such actings are renewed again and again, he grows more settled and established 
about h:s good estate. If a man see a thing once, that makes him sure ; but, i f afterwards, he fear lie 
was deceived, waen he comes to see it again, he is more sure he was not mistaken. If a man read such 
passages in a book, he is sure it is so. Some months after, some may bear him down, that he was mis- 
taken, so as to make him question it himself; but, when he looks, and reads it again, he is abundantly 
confirmed. The more men s grace is multiplied, the more their peace is multiplied :" 2 Pet. i. 2, " Grace 
and peace be multiplied unto you, through the knowledge of God, and Jesus our Lord." Stoddard s Way 
to know Sincerity and Hypocrisy. 



and evident manner. It has been abundantly found to be true in fact, by the 
experience of the Christian church, that Christ commonly gives, by his Spirit, 
the greatest and most joyful evidences to his saints of their sonship, in those 
effectual exercises of grace under trials, which have been spoken of; as is man 
ifest in the full assurance, and unspeakable joys of many of the martyrs. 
Agreeable to that, 1 Pet. iv. 14, " If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, 
happy are ye ; for the Spirit of glory, and of God resteth upon you." And that 
in Rom. v. 2, 3, " We rejoice in hope of the glory of God, and glory in 
tribulations." And agreeable to what the Apostle Paul often declares of what 
he experienced in his trials. And when the Apostle Peter, in my text, speaks 
of the joy unspeakable, and full of glory, which the Christians to whom he 
wrote, experienced ; he has respect to what they found under persecution, as 
appears by the context. Christ s thus manifesting himself, as the friend and 
saviour of his saints, cleaving to him under trials seems to have been represent 
ed of old, by his coming and manifesting himself, to Shadrach, Meshach and 
Abednego, in the furnace. And when the apostle speaks of the witness of the 
Spirit, in Rom. viii. 15, 16, 17, he has a more immediate respect to what the 
Christians experienced," in their exercises of love to God, in suffering persecu 
tion ; as is plain by the context. He is, in the foregoing verses, encouraging 
the Christian Romans under their sufferings, that though their bodies be dead, 
because of sin, yet they should be raised to life again. But it is more especially 
plain by the verse immediately following, verse 18, " For I reckon, that the suf 
ferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory that 
shall be revealed in us." So the apostle has evidently respect to their persecu 
tions, in all that he says tc the end of the chapter. So when the apostle 
speaks of the earnest of the Spirit, which God had given to him, in 2 Cor. v. 
5, the context shows plainly that he has respect to what was given him in his 
great trials and sufferings. And in that promise of the w r hite stone and new 
name, to him that overcomes, Rev. ii. 17, it is evident Christ has a special re 
spect to a benefit that Christians should obtain, by overcoming, in the trial they 
had, in that day of persecution. This appears by verse 13, and many other 
passages in this epistle, to the seven churches of Asia. 

OBJECTION II. Some also may be ready to object against what has been 
said of Christian practice being the chief evidence of the truth of grace, that 
this is a legal doctrine ; and that this making practice a thing of such great 
importance in religion, magnifies works, and tends to lead men to make too 
much of their own doings, to the diminution of the glory of free grace, and does 
not seem well to consist with the great gospel doctrine of justification by faith 

But this objection is altogether without reason. Which way is it inconsis 
tent with the freeness of God s grace, that holy practice should be a sign of " 
God s grace ? It is our works being the price of God s favor, and not their be 
ing the sign of it, that is the thing which is inconsistent with the freeness of 
that favor. Surely the beggar s looking on the money he has in his hands, as 
a sio-n of the kindness of him who gave it to him, is in no respect inconsistent 
with the freeness of that kindness. It is his having money in his hands as the 
price of a benefit, that is the thing which is inconsistent with the free kindness 
of the giver. The notion of the freeness of the grace of God to sinners, as that 
is revealed and taught in the gospel, is not that no holy and amiable qualifica 
tions or actions in us shall be a fruit, and so a sign of that grace ; but that it is 
not the worthiness or loveliness of any qualification or action of ours which re 
commends us to that grace ; that kindness is shown to the unworthy and un- 


lovely ; that there is great excellency in the benefit bestowed, and no excellen 
cy in the subject as the price of it ; that goodness goes forth and flows out, from 
the fulness of God s nature, the fulness of the fountain of good, without any 
amiableness in the the object to draw it. And this is the notion of justification 
without works (as this doctrine is taught in the Scripture), that it is not the 
worthiness or loveliness of our works, or any thing in us, which is in any wise 
accepted with God, as a balance for the guilt of sin, or a recommendation of 
sinners to his acceptance as heirs of life. Thus we are justified only by the right 
eousness of Christ, and not by our righteousness. And when w r orks are opposed to 
faith in this affair, and it is said that we are justified by faith and not by works ; 
thereby is meant, that it is not the worthiness or amiableness of our works, or any 
thing in us, which recommends us to an interest in Christ and his benefits ; but that 
we have this interest only by faith, or by our souls receiving Christ, or adhering to 
and closing with him. But that the worthiness or amiableness of nothing in us 
recommends and brings us to an interest in Christ, is no argument that nothing 
in us is a sign of an interest in Christ. 

If the doctrines of free grace, and justification by faith alone, be inconsistent 
with the importance of holy practice as a sign of grace ; then they are equally 
inconsistent with the importance of any thing whatsoever in us as a sign of 
grace, any holiness, or any grace that is in us, or any of our experiences or re 
ligion ; for it is as contrary to the doctrines of free grace and justification by 
faith alone, that any of these should be the righteousness which we are justified 
by, as that holy practice should be so. It is with holy works, as it is with holy 
qualifications ; it is inconsistent with the freeness of gospel grace, that a title 
to salvation should be given to men for the loveliness of any of their holy quali 
fications, as much as that it should be given for the holiness of their works. 
It is inconsistent with the gospel doctrine of free grace, that an interest in Christ 
and his benefits should be given for the loveliness of a man s true holiness, for 
the amiableness of his renewed, sanctified, heavenly heart, his love to God, and 
being like God, or his experience of joy in the Holy Ghost, self-emptiness, a 
spirit to exalt Christ above all, and to give all glory to him, and a heart devo 
ted unto him ; I say it is inconsistent with the gospel doctrine of free grace, 
that a title to Christ s benefits should be given out of regard to the loveliness of 
any of these, or that any of these should be our righteousness in the affair of 
justification. And yet this does not hinder the importance of these things as 
evidences of an interest in Christ. Just so it is with respect to holy actions and 
works. To make light of works, because we be not justified by works, is the 
same thing in effect, as to make light of all religion, all grace and rHiness, yea, 
true evangelical holiness, and all gracious experience j for all is included, 
when the Scripture says, we are not justified by works ; for by works in this 
case, is meant all our own righteousness, religion, or holiness, and every thing 
*ihat is in us, all the good we do, and all the good which we are conscious of, 
all external acts, and all internal acts and exercises of grace, and all experiences, and 
all those holy and heavenly things wherein the life and power, and the very essence 
of religion do consist, all those great things which Christ and his apostles mainly 
insisted on in their preaching, and endeavored to promote, as of the greatest con 
sequence in the hearts and lives of men, and all good dispositions, exercises and 
qualifications of every kind whatsoever ; and even faith itself, considered as a part 
of our holiness. For we are justified by none of these things ; and if we were, 
we should, in a Scripture sense, be justified by works. And therefore if it be 
not legal, and contrary to the evangelical doctrine of justification without works, 
lo insist on any of these, as of great importance, as evidences of an interest in 
VOL. III. 29 


Christ ; then no more is it, thus to insist on the importance of holy practice. 
It would be legal to suppose, that holy practice justifies by bringing us to 
a title to Christ s benefits, as the price of it, or as recommending to it 
by its preciousness or excellence ; but it is not legal to suppose, that 
holy practice justifies the sincerity of a believer, as the proper evidence 
of it. The Apostle James did not think it legal to say, that Abraham our 
father was justified by works in this sense. The Spirit that indited the 
Scripture, did not think the great importance and absolute necessity ot 
holy practice, in this respect, to be inconsistent with the freeness of grace ; 
for it commonly teaches them both together ; as in Rev. xxi. 6, 7, God says, 
" I will give unto him that is athirst, of the fountain of the water of life freely ;" 
and then adds, in the very next words, " he that overcometh shall inherit all 
things." As though behaving well in the Christian race and warfare, were 
the condition of the promise. So in the next chapter, in the 14th and 15th 
verses, Christ says, " Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may 
have a right to the tree of life, and enter in through the gates into the city ;" 
and then declares in the 15th verse, " how they that are of a wicked practice" 
shall be excluded ; and yet in the two verses next following, does with very 
great solemnity give forth an invitation to all to come and take of the water of 
life freely : " 1 am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning 
star. And the Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that heareth, say, 
come. And let him that is athirst, come ; and whosoever will, let him come 
and take of the water of life freely." So chapter iii. 20, 21, " Behold I stand 
at the door and knock ; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will 
come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me." But then it is added in 
the next words, " To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my 
throne." And in that great invitation of Christ, Matt. xi. latter end, " Come 
unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and 1 will give you rest ;" Christ 
adds in the next words, " Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am 
meek and lowly in heart ; and ye shall find rest unto your souls ; for my yoke 
is easy, and my burden is light :" as though taking the burden of Christ s service, 
and imitating his example, were necessary in order to the promised rest. So 
in that great invitation to sinners to accept of free grace, Isa. lv., " Ho, every 
one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money ; come ye, 
buy and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price ;" 
even there, in the continuation of the same invitation, the sinner s forsaking his 
wicked practice is spoken of as necessary to the obtaining mercy : verse 7, " Let 
the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts ; and let 
him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, 
for he will abundantly pardon." So the riches of divine grace, in the justifica 
tion of sinners, is set forth with the necessity of holy practice, Isa. i. 16, &c. : 
" Wash ye, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine 
eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, 
judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, let us reason together, 
saith the Lord ; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ; 
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." 

And in that most solemn invitation of wisdom, Prov. ix., after it is represent 
ed what great provision is made, and how that all things were ready, the house 
built, the beasts killed, the wine mingled, and the table furnished, and the mes 
sengers sent forth to invite the guests ; then we have the free invitation, verses 
4, 5, 6 : " Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither ; as for him that wanteth 
understanding (i. e. has no righteousness) she saith to him, Come, eat of my 


Dread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled." But then in the next 
breath it follows, " Forsake the foolish, and live ; and go in the way of under 
standing j" as though forsaking sin, and going in the way of holiness, were ne 
cessary in order to life. So that the freeness of grace, and the necessity of holy 
practice, which are thus from time to time joined together in Scripture, are not 
inconsistent one with another. Nor does it at all diminish the honor and im 
portance of faith, that the exercises and effects of faith in practice, should he 
esteemed the chief signs of it ; any more than it lessens the importance of life, 
that action and motion are esteemed the chief signs of that. 

So that in what has been said of the importance of holy practice as the main 
sign of sincerity ; there is nothing legal, nothing derogatory to the freedom and 
sovereignty of gospel grace, nothing in the least clashing with the gospel doc 
trine of justification by faith alone, without the works of the law, nothing in 
the least tending to lessen the glory of the Mediator, and our dependence on his 
righteousness, nothing infringing on the special prerogatives of faith in the af 
fair of our salvation, nothing in any wise detracting from the glory of God and 
his mercy, or exalting man, or diminishing his dependence and obligation. So 
that if any are against such an importance of holy practice as has been spoken 
of, it must be only from a senseless aversion to the letters and sound of the word 
works, when there is no reason in the world to be given for it, but what may 
be given with equal force, why they should have an aversion to the words holi 
ness, godliness, grace, religion, experience, and even faith itself; for to make a 
righteousness of any of these, is as legal, and as inconsistent with the way of 
the new covenant, as to make a righteousness of holy practice. 

It is greatly to the hurt of religion, for persons to make light of, and insist 
little on, those things which the Scripture insists most upon, as of most impor 
tance in the evidence of our interest in Christ, under a notion that to lay weight 
on these things is legal, and an old covenant way ; and so, to neglect the exer 
cises, and effectual operations of grace in practice, and insist almost wholly on 
discoveries, and the method and manner of the immanent exercises of conscience 
and grace in contemplation ; depending on an ability to make nice distinctions 
in these matters, and a faculty of accurate discerning in them, from philosophy 
or experience. It is in vain to seek for any better, or any further signs than 
those that the Scriptures have most expressly mentioned, and most frequently in- 
sisted on, as signs of godliness. They who pretend to a greater accuracy in giv* 
ing signs, or by their extraordinary experience or insight into the nature of 
things, to give more distinguishing marks, which shall more thoroughly search 
out and detect the hypocrite, are but subtil to darken their own minds, and the 
minds of others ; their refinings and nice discerning, are in God s sight, but re 
fined foolishness and a sagacious delusion. Here are applicable those words of 
Agur, Prov. xxx. 5, 6, " Every word of God is pure ; he is a shield to them 
that put their trust in him : add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, 
and thou be found a liar." Our discerning, with regard to the hearts of men , 
is not much to be trusted. We can see but a little way into the nature of trie* 
soul, and the depths of man s heart. The ways are so many whereby persons 
affections may be moved without any supernatural influence, the natural springs 
of the affections are so various and so secret, so many things have oftentimes a 
joint influence on the affections, the imagination, and that in ways innumerable 
and unsearchable, natural temper, education, the common influences of the 
Spirit of God, a surprising concourse of affecting circumstances, an extraordinary 
coincidence of things in the course of men s thoughts, together with the subtil 
management of invisible malicious spirits, that no philosophy or experience will 


ever be sufficient to guide us safely through this labyrinth and maze, without 
our closely following the clew which God has given us in his word. God 
knows his own reasons why he insists on some things, and plainly sets them 
forth as the things that we should try ourselves by rather than others. It may 
be it is because he knows that these things are attended with less perplexity, 
and that we are less liable to be deceived by them than others. He best knows 
our nature ; and he knows the nature and manner of his own operations ; and 
he best knows the way of our safety ; he knows what allowances to make for 
different states of his church, and different tempers of particular persons, and 
varieties in the manner of his own operations, how far nature may resemble 
grace, and how far nature may be mixed with grace, what affections may rise 
from imagination, and how far imagination may be mixed with spiritual illumi 
nation. And therefore it is our wisdom, not to take his work out of his hands, 
but to follow him, and lay the stress of the judgment of ourselves there, where 
he has directed us. If we do otherwise, no wonder if we are bewildered, con 
founded, and fatally deluded. But if we had got into the way of looking chief 
ly at those things, which Christ and his apostles and prophets chiefly insisted 
on, and so in judging of ourselves and others, chiefly regarding practical exer 
cises and effects of grace, not neglecting other things ; it would be of manifold 
happy consequence ; it would above all things tend to the conviction of deluded 
hypocrites, and to prevent the delusion of those whose hearts were never brought 
to a thorough compliance with the straight and narrow way which leads to life ; 
it would tend to deliver us from innumerable perplexities, arising from the va 
rious inconsistent schemes there are about methods and steps of experience ; it 
would greatly tend to prevent professors neglecting strictness of life, and tend 
to promote their engagedness and earnestness in their Christian walk ; and it 
would become fashionable for men to show their Christianity, more by an 
amiable distinguished behavior, than by an abundant and excessive declaring 
their experiences ; and we should get into the way of appearing lively in reli 
gion, more by being lively in the service of God and our generation, than by 
the liveliness and forwardness of our tongues, and making a business of pro 
claiming on the house tops, with our mouths, the holy and eminent acts and ex 
ercises of our own hearts ; and Christians that are intimate friends, would talk 
together of their experiences and comforts, in a manner better becoming Chris 
tian humility and modesty, and more to each other s profit : their tongues not 
running before, but rather going behind their hands and feet, after the prudent 
example of the blessed apostle, 2 Cor. xii. 6, and many occasions of spiritual 
pride would be cut off; and so a great door shut against the devil; and a great 
many of the main stumbling-blocks against experimental and powerful religion 
would be removed ; and religion would be declared and manifested in such a 
way that, instead of hardening spectators, and exceedingly promoting infidelity 
and atheism, would, above all things, tend to convince men that there is a re- 
Mit^iii religion, and greatly awaken them, and win them, by convincing their 
j^Cciences of the importance and excellency of religion. Thus the light of 
professors would so shine before men, that others, seeing their good works, 
would glorify their Father which is in heaven. 







Rer ard Honored Sir : 

HAVING seen your letter to my honored uncle Williams, of Hatfield, of July 
20, wherein you inform him of the notice that has been taken of the late won 
derful work of God in this, and some other towns in this county, by the Rev. 
Dr. Watts and Dr. Guyse of London, and the congregation to which the last of 
these preached on a monthly day of solemn prayer; as also of your desire to 
be more perfectly acquainted with it, by some of us on the spot : and having 
been since informed by my uncle W T illiams, that you desire me to undertake it ; 
I would now do it in as just and faithful a manner as in me lies. 

The people of the county in general, I suppose are as sober, and orderly, 
and good sort of people, as in any part of New England ; and I believe they 
have been preserved the freest by far, of any part of the country from error and 
variety of sects and opinions. Our being so far within the land, at a distance 
from seaports, and in a corner of the country, has doubtless been one reason 
why we have not been so much corrupted with vice, as most other parts. But 
without question the religion, and good order of the country, and their purity 
in doctrine, has, under God, been very much owing to the great abilities, and 
eminent piety, of my venerable and honored grandfather Stoddard. I suppose 
we have been the freest of any part of the land from unhappy divisions, and 
quarrels in our ecclesiastical and religious affairs, till the late lamentable Spring 
field contention.* 

We being much separated from other parts of the province, and having 
comparatively but little intercourse with them, have from the beginning, till 
now, always managed our ecclesiastical affairs within ourselves ; it is the way 
in which the country, from its infancy, has gone on by the practical agreement of 
all, and the way in which our peace and good order has hitherto been maintained. 

The town of Northampton is of about eighty-two years standing, and has 
now about two hundred families; which mostly dwell more compactly together 
than any town of such a bigness in these parts of the country ; which probabh 
has been an occasion that both our corruptions and reformations have been 
from time to time, the more swiftly propagated, from one to another, through 
the town. Take the town in general, and so far as I can judge, they are as 

* The Springfield contention relates to the settlement of a Minister there, which occasioned too warm 
debates between some, both pastors and people that were for it, and others that were against it, on ac 
count of their different apprehensions about his principles, and about some steps that were taken to 
procure his ordination. 


rational and understanding a people as most I have been acquainted with : many 
of them have been noted for religion, and particularly, have been remarkable 
for their distinct knowledge in things that relate to heart religion, and Christian 
experience, and ffieir great regards thereto. 

I am the third minister that has been settled in the town : the Rev. Mr. 
Eleazar Mather, who was the first, was ordained in July, 1669. He was one 
whose heart was much in his work, abundant in labors for the good of precious 
souls ; he had the high esteem and great love of his people, and was blessed 
with no small success. The Rev. Mr. Stoddard, who succeeded him, came first 
to the town the November after his death, but was not ordained till September 
11, 1672, and died February 11, 1728 9. So that he continued in the work 
of the ministry here from his first coming to town, near sixty years. And as 
he was eminent and renowned for his gifts and grace ; so he was blessed, from 
the beginning, with extraordinary success in his ministry, in the conversion of 
many souls. He had five harvests as he called them : the first was about fifty- 
seven years ago ; the second about fifty-three years ; the third about forty ; the 
fourth about twenty-four; the fifth and last about eighteen years ago. Some 
of these times were much more remarkable than others, and the ingathering of 
souls more plentiful. Those that were about fifty-three, and forty, and twenty- 
four years ago, were much greater than either the first or the last : but in each 
of them, I have heard my grandfather say, the greater part of the young people 
in the town, seemed to be mainly concerned for their eternal salvation. 

After the last of these, came a far more degenerate time (at least among 
young people), I suppose, than ever before. Mr. Stoddard, indeed, had the com 
fort before he died, of seeing a time when there was no small appearance of a 
divine work amongst some, and a considerable ingathering of souls, even after I 
was settled with him in the ministry, which was about two years before his death ; 
and I have reason to bless God for the great advantage I had by it. In these 
two years there were near twenty that Mr. Stoddard hoped to be savingly con 
verted ; but there was nothing of any general awakening. The greater part 
seemed to be at that time very insensible of the things of religion, and engaged 
in other cares and pursuits. Just after my grandfather s death, it seemed to be 
a time of extraordinary dullness in religion : licentiousness for some years greatly 
prevailed among the youth of the town ; they were many of them very much 
addicted to night walking, and frequenting the tavern, and lewd practices, 
wherein some by their example exceedingly corrupted others. It was their man 
ner very frequently to get together in conventions of both sexes, for mirth and 
jollity, which they called frolicks ; and they would often spend the greater part 
of the night in them, without any regard to order in the families they belonged to : 
and indeed family government did too much fail in the town. It was become 
very customary with many of our young people to be indecent in their carriage 
at meeting, which doubtless would not have prevailed to such a degree, had it 
not been that my grandfather, through his great age (though he retained his 
powers surprisingly to the last), was not so able to observe them. There had 
also long prevailed in the town a spirit of contention between two parties, into 
which they had for many years been divided, by which was maintained a jeal 
ousy one of the other, and they were prepared to oppose one another in all 
public affairs. 

But in two or three years after Mr. Stoddard s death, there began to be a sen 
sible amendment of these evils ; the young people showed more of a disposition 
to hearken to counsel, and by degrees left off their frolicking, and grew observably 


more decent in their attendance on the public worship, and there were more 
that manifested a religious concern than there used to be. 

At the latter end of the year 1733, there appeared a very unusual flexible- 
ness, and yielding to advice, in our young people. It had been too long their 
manner to make the evening after the Sabbath,* and after our public lecture, to 
be especially the times of their mirth, and company keeping. But a sermon 
was now preached on the Sabbath before the lecture, to show the evil tendency 
of the practice, and to persuade them to reform it ; and it was urged on heads 
of families, that it should be a thing agreed upon among them, to govern their 
families, and keep their children at home, at these times ; and withal it was 
more privately moved, that they should meet together the next day, in their 
several neighborhoods, to know each other s minds : which was accordingly 
done, and the motion complied with throughout the town. But parents found 
little or no occasion for the exercise of government in the case ; the young peo 
ple declared themselves convinced by what they had heard from the pulpit, and 
were willing of themselves to comply with the counsel that had been given : 
and it was immediately, and, I suppose, almost universally complied with ; and 
there was a thorough reformation of these disorders thenceforward, which has 
continued ever since. 

Presently after this, there began to appear a remarkable religious concern 
at a little village belonging to the congregation, called Pascommuck, where a 
few families were settled, at about three miles distance from the main body of 
the town. At this place a number of persons seemed to be savingly wrought 
upon. In the April following, anno 1734, there happened a very sudden and 
awful death of a young man in the bloom of his youth ; who being violently 
seized with a pleurisy, and taken immediately very delirious, died in about two 
days ; which (together with what was preached publicly on that occasion) much 
affected many young people. This was followed with another death of a young 
married woman, who had been considerably exercised in mind, about the salva 
tion of her soul, before she was ill, and was in great distress, in the beginning 
of her illness; but seemed to have satisfying evidences of God s saving mercy 
to her, before her death ; so that she died very full of comfort, in a most earnest 
and moving manner, warning and counselling others. This seemed much to 
contribute to the solemnizing of the spirits of many young persons ; and there 
began evidently to appear more of a religious concern on people s minds. 

In the fall of the year, I proposed it to the young people, that they should 
agree among themselves to spend the evenings after lectures, in social religion, 
and to that end to divide themselves into several companies to meet in various 
parts of the town ; which was accordingly done, and those meetings have been 
since continued, and the example imitated by elder people. This was followed 
with the death of an elderly person, which was attended with many unusual 
circumstances, by which many were much moved and affected. 

About this time began the great noise that was in this part of the country, 
about Arminianism, which seemed to appear with a very threatening aspect 
upon the interest of religion here. The friends of vital piety trembled for fear 
of the issue ; but it seemed, contrary to their fear, strongly to be overruled for 
the promoting of religion. Many who looked on themselves as in a Christless 
condition seemed to be awakened by it, with fear that God was about to with 
draw from the land, and that we should be given up to heterodoxy, and corrupt 

* It must be noted, that it has never been on : manner to observe the evening that follows the Sabbath, 
but. that which precedes it, as part of holy time 

VOL. III. 30 


principles , and that then their opportunity for obtaining salvation would be 
past; and many who were brought a little to doubt about the truth of the doc 
trines they had hitherto been taught, seemed to have a kind of a trembling fear 
with their doubts, lest they should be led into by-paths, to their eternal undoing : 
and they seemed with much concern and engagedness of mind to inquire 
what was indeed the way in which they must come to be accepted with God. 
There were then some things said publicly on that occasion, concerning justifi 
cation by faith alone. 

Although great fault was found with meddling with the controversy in the 
pulpit, by such a person, at that time, and though it was ridiculed by many 
elsewhere ; yet it proved a word spoken in season here ; and was most evidently 
attended with a very remarkable blessing of heaven to the souls of the people 
in this town. They received thence a general satisfaction with respect to the 
main thing in question, which they had in trembling doubts and concern about ; 
and their minds w r ere engaged the more earnestly to seek that they might come 
to be accepted of God, and saved in the way of the gospel, which had been 
made evident to them to be the true and only way. And then it was, in the 
latter part of December, that the Spirit of God began extraordinarily to set in, 
and wonderfully to work amongst us ; and there were, very suddenly, one after 
another, five or six persons, who were, to all appearance, savingly converted, 
and some of them wrought upon in a very remarkable manner. 

Particularly, I was surprised with the relation of a young woman, who had 
been one of the greatest company keepers in the whole town : when she came to 
me, I had never heard that she was become in any wise serious, but by the con 
versation I then had with her, it appeared to me, that what she gave an account 
of, was a glorious work of God s infinite power and sovereign grace ; and that 
God had given her a new heart, truly broken and sanctified. I could not then 
doubt of it, and have seen much in my acquaintance with her since to con 
firm it. 

Though the work was glorious, yet I was filled with concern about the effect 
it might have upon others : I was ready to conclude (though too rashly) that 
some would be hardened by it, in carelessness and looseness of life ; and would 
take occasion from it to open their mouths, in reproaches of religion. But the 
event was the reverse, to a wonderful degree ; God made it, I suppose, the great 
est occasion of awakening to others, of any thing that ever came to pass in the 
town. I have had abundant opportunity to know the effect it had, by my pri 
vate conversation with many. The news of it seemed to be almost like a flash 
of lightning, upon the hearts of young people, all over the town, and upon many 
others. Those persons amongst us, who used to be farthest from seriousness, 
and that I most feared would make an ill improvement of it, seemed greatly to 
be awakened with it; many went to talk with her, concerning what she had 
met with ; and what appeared in her seemed to be to the satisfaction of all that 
did so. 

Presently upon this, a great and earnest concern about the great things of 
religion, and the eternal world, became universal in all parts of the town, and 
among persons of all degrees, and all ages ; the noise amongst the dry bones 
waxed louder and louder : all other talk but about spiritual and eternal things 
was soon thrown by ; all the conversation in all companies, and upon all occa 
sions, was upon these things only, unless so much as was necessary for people 
carrying on their ordinary secular business. Other discourse than of the things 
of religion, would scarcely be tolerated in any company. The minds of 
people were wonderfully taken off from the world; it was treated amongst us 


as a thing of very little consequence : they seem to follow their worldly busi 
ness, more as a part of their duty, than from any disposition they had to it ; the 
temptation now seemed to lie on that hand, to neglect worldly affairs too much, 
and to spend too much time in the immediate exercise of religion : which thing 
was exceedingly misrepresented by reports that were spread in distant parts of 
the land, as though the people here had wholly thrown by all worldly business, 
and betook themselves entirely to reading and praying, and such like religious 

But though the people did not ordinarily neglect their worldly business, yet 
there then was the reverse of what commonly is : religion was with all sorts 
the great concern, and the world was a thing only by the by. The only thing 
in their view was to get the kingdom of heaven, and every one appeared press 
ing into it : the engagedness of their hearts in this great concern could not be 
hid ; it appeared in their very countenances. It then was a dreadful thing amongst 
us to lie out of Christ, in danger every day of dropping into hell ; and what per 
sons minds were intent upon was to escape for their lives, and to fly from the 
wrath to come. All would eagerly lay hold of opportunities for their souls ; 
and were wont very often to meet together in private houses for religious pur 
poses : and such meetings, when appointed, were wont greatly to be thronged. 

There was scarcely a single person in the town, either old or young, that 
was left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world. Those that 
were wont to be the vainest, and loosest, and those that had been most disposed 
to think and speak slightly of vital and experimental religion, were now gener 
ally subject to great awakenings. And the work of conversion was carried OD 
in a most astonishing manner, and increased more and more ; souls did, as it were, 
come by flocks to Jesus Christ. From day to day, for many months together, 
might be seen evident instances of sinners brought out of darkness into marvellous 
light, and delivered out of a horrible pit, and from the miry clay, and set upon 
a rock, with a new song of praise to God in their mouths. 

This work of God, as it was carried on, and the number of true saints mul 
tiplied, soon made a glorious alteration in the town ; so that in the spring and 
summer following, anno 1735, the town seemed to be full of the presence of 
God : it never was so full of love, nor so full of joy ; and yet so full of distress 
as it was then. There were remarkable tokens of God s presence in almost 
every house. It was a time of joy in families on the account of salvation s being 
brought unto them; parents rejoicing over their children as new born, and 
husbands over their wives, and wives over their husbands. The goings of God 
were then seen in his sanctuary, God s day was a delight, and his tabernacles 
were amiable. Our public assemblies were then beautiful ; the congregation 
was alive in God s service, every one earnestly intent on the public worship, 
every hearer eager to drink in the words of the minister as they came from his 
mouth; the assembly in general were, from time to time, in tears while 
the word was preached ; some weeping with sorrow and distress, others 
with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the souls of their neigh 

Our public praises were then greatly enlivened ; God was then served in our 
psalmody, in some measure, in the beauty of holiness. It has been observable, 
that there has been scarce any part of divine worship, wherein good men 
amongst us have had grace so drawn forth, and their hearts so lifted up in the 
ways of God, as in singing his praises : our congregation excelled all that ever 
I knew in the external part of the duty before, the men generally carrying re 
gularly, and well, three parts of music, and the women a part by themselves 


but now they were evidently wont to sing with unusual elevation of heart arxd 
voice, which made the duty pleasant indeed. 

In all companies, on other days, on whatever occasions persons met together, 
Christ was to be heard of, and seen in the midst of them. Our young people, 
when they met, were wont to spend the time in talking of the excellency and 
dying love of Jesus Christ, the gloriousness of the way of salvation, the won 
derful, free, and sovereign grace of God, his glorious work in the conversion of 
a soul, the truth and certainty of the great things of God s word, the sweetness 
of the views of his perfections, &c. And even at weddings, which formerly 
were merely occasions of mirth and jollity, there was now no discourse of any 
thing but the things of religion, and no appearance of any but spiritual mirth. 

Those amongst us that had been formerly converted, were greatly enlivened 
and renewed with fresh and extraordinary incomes of the Spirit of God ; though 
some much more than others, according to the measure of the gift of Christ : 
many that before had labored under difficulties about their own state, had now 
their doubts removed by more satisfying experience, and more clear discoveries 
of God s love. 

When this work of God first appeared, and was so extraordinarily carried 
on amongst us in the winter, others round about us, seemed not to know what 
to make of it ; and there were many that scoffed at, and ridiculed it ; and some 
compared what we called conversion to certain distempers. But it was very 
observable of many, that occasionally came amongst us from abroad, with disre- 
gardful hearts, that what they saw here cured them of such a temper of mind : 
strangers were generally surprised to find things so much beyond what they had 
heard, and were wont to tell others that the state of the town could not be con 
ceived of by those that had not seen it. The notice that was taken of it by the 
people that came to town on occasion of the court, that sat here in the begin 
ning of March, was very observable. And those that came from the neighbor 
hood to our public lectures, were for the most part remarkably affected. Many 
that came to town, on one occasion or other, had their consciences smitten, and 
awakened, and went home with wounded hearts, and with those impressions 
that never wore off till they had hopefully a saving issue ; and those that before 
had serious thoughts, had their awakenings and convictions greatly increased. 
And there were many instances of persons that came from abroad, on visits, or 
on business, that had not been long here before, to all appearance, they were 
savingly wrought upon, and partook of that shower of divine blessing that, God 
rained down here, and went home rejoicing ; till at length the same work began 
evidently to appear and prevail in several other towns in the county. 

In the month of March, the people in South Hadley began to be seized with 
deep concern about the things of religion ; which very soon became universal : 
and the work of God has been very wonderful there ; not much, if any thing, 
short of what it has been here, in proportion to the bigness of the place. About 
the same time it began to break forth in the west part of Suffield (where it has 
also been very great), and it soon spread into all parts of the town. It next 
appeared at Sunderland, and soon overspread the town ; and I believe was for 
a season, not less remarkable than it was here. About the same time it began 
to appear in a part of Deerfield, called Green River, and afterwards filled the 
town, and there has been a glorious work there : it began also to be manifest in 
the south part of Hatfield, in a place called the Hill, and after that the whole 
town, in the second week in April, seemed to be seized, as it were at once, with 
concern about the things of religion : and the work of God has been great there. 
There has been also a very general awakening at West Springfield, and Long 


Meadow ; and in Enfield, there was, for a time, a pretty general concern amongst 
some that before had been very loose persons. About the same time that this 
appeared at Enfield, the Rev. Mr. Bull of Westfield informed me, that there had 
been a great alteration there, and that more had been done in one week there thap 
in seven years before. Something of this work likewise appeared in the first pre 
cinct in Springfield, principally in the north and south extremes of the parish. 
And in Hadley old town, there gradually appeared so much of a work of God on 
souls, as at another time would have been thought worthy of much notice. For 
a short time there was also a very great and general concern, of the like nature, 
at Northfield. And wherever this concern appeared, it seemed not to be in vain : 
but in every place God brought saving blessings with him, and his word attend 
ed with his Spirit (as we have all reason to think) returned not void. It might 
well be said at that time in all parts of the country, Who are these that fly as a 
cloud, and as doves to their windows ? 

As what other towns heard of and found in this, was a great means of awaken 
ing them ; so our hearing of such a swift, and extraordinary propagation, and 
extent of this work, did doubtless, for a time, serve to uphold the work amongst 
us. The continual news kept alive the talk of religion, and did greatly quicken 
and rejoice the hearts of God s people, and much awaken those that looked on 
themselves as still left behind, and made them the more earnest that they also 
might share in the great blessing that others had obtained. 

This remarkable pouring out of the Spirit of God, which thus extended from 
one end to the other of this country, was not confined to it, but many places in 
Connecticut have partook in the same mercy : as for instance, the first parish in 
Windsor, under the pastoral care of the Reverend Mr. Marsh, was thus blest 
about the same time, as we in Northampton, while we had no knowledge of 
each other s circumstances : there has been a very great ingathering of souls to 
Christ in that place, and something considerable of the same work began after 
wards in East Windsor, my honored father s parish, which has in times past 
been a place favored with mercies of this nature, above any on this western 
side of New England, excepting Northampton ; there having been four or five 
seasons of the pouring out of the Spirit to the general awakening of the people 
there, since my father s settlement amongst them. 

There was also the last spring and summer a wonderful work of God carried on 
at Coventry, under the ministry of the Reverend Mr. Meacham : 1 had oppor 
tunity to converse with some of the Coventry people, who gave me a very re 
markable account of the surprising change that appeared in the most rude and 
vicious persons there. The like was also very great at the same time in a part 
of Lebanon, called the Crank, where the Reverend Mr. Wheelock, a young- 
gentleman, is lately settled : and there has been much of the same at Durham, 
under the ministry of the Reverend Mr. Chauncey ; and to appearance no small 
ingathering of souls there. And likewise amongst many of the young peo 
ple in the first precinct in Stratford, under the ministry of the Reverend Mr. 
Gould ; where the work was much promoted by the remarkable conversion of a 
young woman that had been a great company keeper, as it was here. 

Something of this work appeared in several other towns in those parts, as 
I was informed when I was there the last fall. And we have since been ac 
quainted with something very remarkable of this nature at another parish in 
Stratford, called Ripton, under the pastoral care of the Rev. Mr. Mills. Aid 
there was a considerable revival of religion last summer at New Haven old 
town, as I was once and again informed by the Rev. Mr. Noyes, the minister 
there, and by others : and by a letter which I very lately received from Mr. 


Noyes, and also by information we have had otherwise. This flourishing of 
religion still continues, and has lately much increased : Mr. Noyes writes, that 
many this summer have been added to the church, and particularly mentions 
several young persons that belonged to the principal families of that town. 

There has been a degree of the same work at a part of Guilford ; and very 
considerable at Mansfield, under the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Eleazar Williams ; 
and an unusual religious concern at Tolland ; and something of it at Hebron, and 
Bolton. There was also no small effusion of the Spirit of God in the north 
parish in Preston in the eastern part of Connecticut, which I was informed of, 
and saw something of it when I was the last autumn at the house, and in the, 
congregation of the Rev. Mr. Lord, the minister there ; who with the Rev. Mr. 
Owen of Groton, came up hither in May, the last year, on purpose to see the 
work of God here ; and having heard various and contradictory accounts of it, 
were careful when they were here to inform and satisfy themselves ; and to that 
end particularly conversed with many of our people ; which they declared 
to be entirely to their satisfaction ; and that the one half had not been told them, 
nor could be told them. Mr. Lord told me, that, when he got home, he in 
formed his congregation of what he had seen, and that they were greatly affected 
with it, and that it proved the beginning of the same work amongst them, 
which prevailed till there was a general awakening, and many instances of 
persons, who seemed to be remarkably converted. I also have lately heard 
that there has been something of the same work at Woodbury. 

But this shower of Divine blessing has been yet more extensive : there was 
no small degree of it in some parts of the Jerseys ; as I was informed when 1 
was at New-York (in a long journey I took at that time of the year for my 
health), by some people of the Jerseys, whom I saw : especially the Rev. Mr. 
William Tennent, a minister, who seemed to have such things much at heart, 
told me of a very great awakening of many in a place called the Mountain?, 
under the ministry of one Mr. Cross; and of a very considerable revival of re 
ligion in another place under the ministry of his brother the Rev. Mr. Gilbert 
Tennent ; and also at another place, under the ministry of a very pious young 
gentleman, a Dutch minister, whose name as I remember, was Freelinghousen. 

This seems to have been a very extraordinary dispensation of Providence : 
God has in many respects, gone out of, and much beyond his usual and ordinary 
way. The work in this town, and some others about us, has been extraordinary 
on account of the universality of it, affecting all sorts, sober and vicious, high 
and low, rich and poor, wise and unwise ; it reached the most considerable 
families and persons to all appearance, as much as others. In former stirrings 
of this nature, the bulk of the young people have been greatly affected ; but old 
men and little children have been so now. Many of the last have, of their own 
accord, formed themselves into religious societies, in different parts of the town : 
a loose careless person could scarcely find a companion in the whole neighbor 
hood ; and if there was any one that seemed to remain senseless or unconcerned, 
it would be spoken of as a strange thing. 

This dispensation has also appeared extraordinary in the numbers of those, 
on whom we have reason to hope it has had a saving effect : we have about six 
hundred and twenty communicants, which include almost all our adult persons. 
The church was very large before ; but persons never thronged into it, as they 
did in the late extraordinary time. Our sacraments were eight weeks asunder, 
and I received into our communion about a hundred before one sacrament, 
and fourscore of them at one time, whose appearance, when they presented 
themselves together to make an open, explicit profession of Christianity, was 


very affecting to the congregation : I took in near sixty before the next sacra 
ment day : and 1 had very sufficient evidence of the conversion of their souls, 
through divine grace, though it is not the custom here, as it is in many other 
churches in this country, to make a credible relation of their inward experiences 
the ground of admission to the Lord s Supper. 

I am far from pretending to be able to determine how many have lately 
been the subjects of such mercy ; but if I may be allowed to declare any thing 
that appears to me probable in a thing of this nature, I hope that more than 
three hundred souls were savingly brought home to Christ in this town, in the 
space of half a year (how many more I don t guess), and about the same num 
ber of males as females ; which, by what I have heard Mr. Stoddard say, was 
far from what has been usual in years past, for he observed that in his time, 
many more women were converted than men. Those of our young people that 
are on other accounts most likely and considerable, are mostly, as I hope, truly 
pious, and leading persons in the way of religion. Those that were formerly 
looser young persons, are generally, to all appearance, become true lovers of 
God and Christ, and spiritual in their dispositions. And I hope that by far 
the greater part of persons in this town, above sixteen years of age, are such as 
have the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ ; and so by what I heard I suppose 
it is in some other places, particularly at Sunderland and South Hadley. 

This has also appeared to be a very extraordinary dispensation, in that the 
Spirit of God has so much extended not only his awakening, but regenerating 
influences, both to elderly persons, and also those that are very young. It has 
been a thing heretofore rarely heard of, that any were converted past middle 
age ; but now we have the same ground to think that many such have in this 
time been savingly changed, as that others have been so in more early years. 
I suppose there were upwards of fifty persons in this town above forty years of 
age ; and more than twenty of them above fifty, and about ten of them above 
sixty, and two of them above seventy years of age. 

It has heretofore been looked on as a strange thing, when any have seemed 
to be savingly wrought upon, and remarkably changed in their childhood ; but 
now, I suppose, near thirty were to appearance so wrought upon between ten 
and fourteen years of age, and two between nine and ten, and one of them about 
four years of age ; and because, I suppose, this last will be most difficultly be 
lieved, I shall hereafter give a particular account of it. The influences of God s 
Spirit have also been very remarkable on children in some other places, parti 
cularly at Sunderland and South Hadley, and the west part of Suffield. There 
are several families in this town that are all hopefully pious ; yea, there are 
several numerous families, in which, I think, we have reason to hope that all 
the children are truly godly, and most of them lately become so : and there are 
very few houses in the whole town, into which salvation has not lately come, in 
one or more instances. There are several negroes, that from what was seen in 
them then, and what is discernible in them since, appear to have been truly 
born again in the late remarkable season. 

God has also seemed to have gone out of his usual way in the quickness of 
Ins work, and the swift progress his Spirit has made in his operation, on the 
hearts of many : tis wonderful that persons should be so suddenly, and yet so 
greatly changed : many have been taken from a loose and careless way of living, 
and seized with strong convictions of their guilt and misery, and in a very little 
time old things have passed away, and all things have become new with 

God s work has also appeared very extraordinary, in the degrees of the in- 


fluences of his Spirit, both in the degree of awakening and conviction, and also 
in a degree of saving light, and love, and joy, that many have experienced. It 
has also been very extraordinary in the extent of it, and its being so swiftly 
propagated from town to town. In former times of the pouring out of the Spirit 
of God on this town, though, in some of them it was very remarkable, yet it 
reached no further than this tpwn, the neighboring towns all around continued 

The work of God s Spirit seemed to be at its greatest height in this town, in 
the former part of the spring, in March and April ; at which time God s work 
in the conversion of souls was carried on amongst us in so wonderful a manner, 
that so far as I, by looking back, can judge from the particular acquaintance I 
have had with souls in this work, it appears to me probable, to have been at 
the rate, at least of four persons in a day, or near thirty in a week, take one 
with another, for five or six weeks together : when God in so remarkable a 
manner took the work into his own hands, there was as much done in a day or 
two, as at ordinary times, with all endeavors that men can use, and with such a 
blessing as we commonly have, is done in a year. 

I arn very sensible how apt many would be, if they should see the account 
I have here given, presently to think with themselves that 1 am very fond of 
making a great many converts, and of magnifying and aggrandizing the matter; 
and to think that, for w r ant of judgment, I take every religious pang, and enthu 
siastic conceit, for saving conversion ; and I do not much wonder if they should 
be apt to think so : and for this reason, I have forborne to publish an account of 
this great work of God, though I have often been put upon it ; but having now 
as I thought a special call to give an account of it, upon mature consideration I 
thought it might not be beside my duty to declare this amazing work, as it ap 
peared to me, to be indeed divine, and to conceal no part of the glory of it, 
leaving it with God to take care of the credit of his own work, and running the 
venture of any censorious thoughts, which might be entertained of me to my 
disadvantage. But that distant persons may be under as great advantage as 
may be, to judge for themselves of this matter, I would be a little more large, and 

1 therefore proceed to give an account of the manner of persons being 
wrought upon ; and here there is a vast variety, perhaps as manifold as the sub 
jects of the operation ; but yet in many things there is a great analogy in all. 

Persons are first awakened with a sense of their miserable condition by 
nature, the danger they are in of perishing eternally, and that it is of great im 
portance to them that they speedily escape, and get into a better state. Those 
that before were secure and senseless, are made sensible how much they were 
in the way to ruin in their former courses. Some are more suddenly seized with 
convictions ; it may be, by the news of others conversion, or something they 
hear in public, or in private conference, their consciences are suddenly smitten, 
as if their hearts were pierced through with a dart : others have awakenings 
that come upon them more gradually ; they begin at first to be something more 
thoughtful and considerate, so as to come to a conclusion in their minds, that it 
is their best and wisest way to delay no longer, but to improve the present op 
portunity ; and have accordingly set themselves seriously to meditate on those 
things that have the most awakening tendency, on purpose to obtain convic 
tions ; and so their awakenings have increased, till a sense of their misery, by 
God s Spirit setting in therewith, has had fast hold of them. Others that, be 
fore this wonderful time, had been something religious and concerned for their 
salvation, have been awakened in a new manner, and made sensible that their 


slack and dull way of seeking was never like to attain their purpose, and so 
have been roused up to a greater violence for the kingdom of heaven. 

These awakenings when they have first seized on persons, have had two 
effects : one was, that they have brought them immediately to quit their sinful 
practices, and the looser sort have been brought to forsake and dread their for 
mer vices and extravagancies. When once the Spirit of God began to be so 
wonderfully poured out in a general way through the town, people had soon 
done with their old quarrels, backbitings, and intermeddling with other men s 
matters ; the tavern was soon left empty, and persons kept very much at home ; 
none went abroad unless on necessary business, or on some religious account, 
and every day seemed in many respects like a Sabbath day. And the other 
effect was, that it put them on earnest application to the means of salvation, 
reading, prayer, meditation, the ordinances of God s house, and private confer 
ence ; their cry was, What shall we do to be saved ? The place of resort was 
now altered, it was no longer the tavern, but the minister s house ; that was 
thronged far more than ever the tavern had been wont to be. 

There is a very great variety, as to the degree of fear and trouble that persons 
are exercised with, before they obtain any comfortable evidences of pardon and 
acceptance with God : some are from the beginning carried on with abundantly 
more encouragement and hope, than others : some have had ten times less trou 
ble of mind than others, in whom yet the issue seems to be the same. Some 
have had such a sense of